From the Kaiser Health News, two interesting articles about psychotherapy resources, market forces and meeting the needs of those who cannot pay cash for therapy, one in collaboration with National Public Radio.

  • In collaboration with National Public Radio, “Frustrated You Can’t Find A Therapist? They’re Frustrated, Too,” broadcast on 7-14-16. This article reports on issues that are very familiar to therapists:  MCOs claim that they have all of the mental health professionals that they need, but members are not able to have adequate access to mental health professionals.  The article describes one therapist’s battle with an MCO phone tree, which is a classic and may be very familiar to therapists who have attempted to call an MCO and hoped to reach a human.  The article reports that “nearly half of therapists in California don’t take insurance, based on a 2015 survey of CA LMFTs, which found that 47% are “not affiliated with any PPO, HMO, EAP or other managed care panel.”

mhconcierge’s take: The article is entertaining, in a way, but also is a vivid illustration of the payment and business challenges that mental health professionals face.  The CA survey is interesting:  many LMFTs don’t take insurance, but the average income of a CA LMFT is pretty low.  This gives mhconcierge an idea about a future MN survey….

  • Posted by Kaiser Health News on 7-15-16, “Psychotherapists Gravitate Toward Those Who Can Pay.” Interestingly, the article focuses on comments by a Stanford psychiatry professor, who is upset about how many of his graduates opt for a cash-only business. The article provides a brief history of how mental health services in the US have been funded, and compares this to Canada’s single payer system- which has interesting statistics that appear to indicate that Canadians have better access to mental health services. The article also reviews US efforts to address the problem, including the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ Obamacare”) of 2010.

mhconcierge’s take:  While this article tends to focus on sort of elite communities, like Palo Alto and San Francisco, the concerns across the US.  The conclusion is pessimistic: “given the nature of mental health care and the American obsession with self-improvement, the cash market will be here to stay.”

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