Conference Coverage

Pursuing violators seen as way to achieving mental health parity



Both of these examples, which were found in insurance plans each covering about 300,000 individuals, represented nonquantitative treatment limitations, which Dr. Knoepflmacher said are often more difficult to identify than quantitative limitations, such as a cap on patient consultations or access to medications.

Another example of a nonquantitative limitation is low reimbursement when different types of services make parity difficult to establish. Recently, a firm that evaluates employee benefits compared the reimbursement received by psychiatrists with that received by primary care physicians for CPT code 99213 claims. This is a code applied for behavioral assessment. Based on national data, the report found that primary care clinicians received a 20% higher reimbursement on average than did mental health specialists. The disparity was greatest in Connecticut, and Nebraska was the only state offering similar reimbursement. In all other states, psychiatrists received less.

“This is an apples-to-apples comparison,” Dr. Knoepflmacher said. “What does this difference create? This leads to a reality that is familiar to many of us, which is that a large number of psychiatrists are working out of network.”

This is highly relevant to parity for mental health services: Reduced numbers of mental health specialists working in network mean patients face greater barriers to finding a clinician at an affordable cost.

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