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Am J Public Health. 1984 May;74(5):453-8.

Changing patterns in mental health service coverage within health maintenance organizations.


This 1982 national survey of all operational health maintenance organizations (HMOs) provides information on the current status of mental health services, benefits, costs, and utilization within HMOs, updating and augmenting a 1978 study. Approximately 94 per cent of the responding HMOs offered mental health service coverage; over one-half (54 per cent) offered alcohol and drug abuse service coverage. The present coverage benefits and utilization of mental health services within HMOs continue to reflect greater variability vis-a-vis other health services within HMOs. Over one-half (57 per cent) of the HMOs provided for 30 days of inpatient mental health coverage (per member per year). Three out of four (77 per cent) of the health plans provided for 20 ambulatory visits (per member per year). The mean mental health hospital utilization rate was 32 days (per 1,000 members per year). The mean mental health ambulatory utilization rate was 0.33 encounters (per member per year). Further studies should investigate the combined influence of organization characteristics, mental health service organization characteristics, and service benefits on the costs and utilization of HMO mental health services.

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