Opinion | Mental health care is adversely affected by focus on the bottom line – The Washington Post


Regarding the June 10 front-page article, “Mental health parity elusive despite legal guarantee”:
Medical care in the United States is shaped by an economic system that rewards procedures over time. Medical doctors are expected to see 20 or so patients a day. Medical practices are frequently owned by corporations, and much of the care is provided by medical extenders. It’s not unusual to be told things like, “We can only talk about your elbow today; you’ll need to make another appointment to discuss your knee.”
A provider of mental health services is not going to be able to see 20 patients in a day. Talk therapy doesn’t work well if the provider is limited to 10 minutes. It isn’t easy for a provider to survive on the typical insurance reimbursement rates. And many providers of mental health services work in small practices without a legion of paid staff to deal with the tedious process of getting insurance approvals and tracking reimbursements.
I don’t know how we address the problem without increasing premiums, but mental health parity will remain elusive as long as our medical systems are ruled by businesspeople focused on the bottom line.
Elaine Wolf Komarow, Vienna
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