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Psychiatr Serv. 2018 Nov 20:appips201800014. doi: 10.1176/ [Epub ahead of print]

Patient Characteristics and Treatment Patterns Among Psychiatrists Who Do Not Accept Private Insurance.

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Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut (Busch, Ndumele, Loveridge); Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York (Kyanko).



Privately insured individuals frequently use out-of-network psychiatrists. Yet, whether treatment provided by psychiatrists who do not accept private insurance differs from treatment provided by those who do has not been studied. The investigators described provider characteristics, patient characteristics, and treatment patterns among psychiatrists who do not accept new patients with private insurance.


Data for this study came from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (2011-2014), a nationally representative annual cross-sectional survey of physicians providing ambulatory care. Responses of psychiatrists who report accepting any new patients (N=440) were examined, representing 7,634 visits.


Compared with psychiatrists accepting privately insured patients, those not accepting privately insured patients had fewer visits with patients with serious mental illness (42% versus 53%; p=0.016). These psychiatrists had a higher proportion of visits lasting longer than 30 minutes (48% versus 34%; p=0.026), and their patients were more likely to have had 10 or more visits in the past 12 months (41% versus 28%; p=0.013). There were no differences in the proportion of visits in which treatment included psychotherapy (48% versus 44%).


Although psychiatrists not accepting patients with private insurance were less likely than other psychiatrists to treat patients with serious mental illness, their patients were more likely to have longer visits and a relatively high number of visits in the past year. The low rate of acceptance of insurance among psychiatrists may have the greatest effect among those most in need of services.


Administration and management; Insurance; Managed care


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