Inaccurate Provider Directories Can Lead to Off-Grid Mental Health Care

(HealthDay) – Inaccuracies in provider directories linked to the use of off-grid mental health care providers and surprise bills, according to research published in the June issue of Health affairs.

Susan H. Busch, Ph.D., of the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, and Kelly A. Kyanko, MD, of New York University Langone Health in New York, conducted a national patient survey privately insured who have received specialized mental health treatment to better understand the use of provider directories.

The researchers found that 44 percent of patients had used a directory of mental health providers and that among those who used a directory, 53 percent had encountered inaccuracies in the directory. People who encountered inaccuracies were more likely to be handled by an off-grid provider (40 vs. 20%) and were four times more likely to receive a surprise off-grid bill (16 vs. 4%) due to the absence initially knowing that a supplier was off-grid.

“A federal standard for directory accuracy, stricter enforcement of existing laws with insurers responsible for directory errors, and additional oversight by regulators may be needed,” the authors write.

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