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. 2015 Jan 1;66(1):94-6.
doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201400051. Epub 2014 Oct 31.

Availability of Outpatient Care From Psychiatrists: A Simulated-Patient Study in Three U.S. Cities

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Availability of Outpatient Care From Psychiatrists: A Simulated-Patient Study in Three U.S. Cities

Monica Malowney et al. Psychiatr Serv. .

Abstract

Objectives: The study examined availability of psychiatrists for outpatient appointments in three U.S. cities.

Methods: Posing as patients, investigators called 360 psychiatrists listed in a major insurer's database in Boston, Houston, and Chicago (N=120 per city) and attempted to make appointments. Callers claimed to have Blue Cross Blue Shield or Medicare or said they would pay out of pocket (N=120 per payer type, divided evenly across cities).

Results: In round 1 of calling, investigators were able to reach 119 of the 360 psychiatrists (33%). Of 216 unanswered calls, 36% were returned. After two calling rounds, appointments were made with 93 psychiatrists (26%). Significant differences were noted between cities but not between payer type.

Conclusions: Obtaining outpatient appointments with psychiatrists in three cities was difficult, irrespective of payer. RESULTS suggest that expanding insurance coverage alone may do little to improve access to psychiatrists-or worse, expansion might further overwhelm the capacity of available services.

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