In dispute between insurer & providers, people seeking mental health suffer

If you’re looking for timely mental health care, and you pay Blue Cross Blue Shield for your health insurance, you’re probably not going to get it if the therapist isn’t taking new patients.

The Star Tribune reports today that because the state’s largest insurer paid too much for claims last year, it’s cutting reimbursement rates dramatically this year and providers are responding by refusing to take on new patients who are Blue Cross Blue Shield customers.

The Art of Counseling clinic in St. Paul has had its insurance reimbursement cut by a third, the paper says.

The insurance giant denies people are losing access to mental health care.

“The majority of providers affected by this issue have either already submitted payments in full or have agreed to a payment installment plan,” the company said.

The Minnesota Department of Health says there’s nothing it can do. Insurers are allowed to recoup overpayments.

None of this, of course, is the fault of people who today are calling health care providers looking for help and being given a familiar answer.

“No.”

  • AL287

    I suggest the reason BCBS has reduced its reimbursement rates is because the law allows them to.

    Why pick on mental health providers? There wasn’t any overpayment to other specialty providers or hospitals?

    It’s not like psychiatrists and mental health counselors are making huge salaries helping the mentally ill. Emotional health translates to physical health as well.

    Considering the Minnesota Department of Health’s dismal record of protecting nursing home and assisted living residents from abuse and lack of appropriate supervision by their caregivers of course they are going to say there is nothing they can do.

    Not even our lily-livered legislature could muster up the courage to put better regulations in place.

    The “golden” years aren’t so golden, especially for the mentally ill and the very old.

    • Al

      For the record, the Department of Health does the best it can with pretty meager funding. It really does. The Department of Health also wasn’t in the facilities, abusing the elders in the first place. Aim your anger where it counts.

      • AL287

        Did any D H employees contact their legislators or the governor for that matter?

        When was a serious evaluation of nursing assistant training and education done?

        Increased education and clinical training hours means better prepared nursing assistants and better care for the elderly and mentally ill in the healthcare system.

        BTW, Minnesota falls in the lower 30 percent in regards to required hours of training for nursing assistants.

        • Al

          As constituents, of course.

  • Al

    I suspect many state employees, from the bottom to the top, are equally frustrated by what they can and can’t do within statute. If this matters, folks, PLEASE call your legislators. Then call them again. And again. And join an organization that can amplify your voice. A lot of this change has to come from the Capitol.

  • Carolie

    This is also a parity issue. reimbursement rates are lower than to other providers and that is illegal as it violates parity. But Parity is not being enforced in Minnesota (or anywhere) as far as I can tell.

    • AL287

      The legislature thought tax breaks for corporations with the mythical belief that they would provide more jobs was more important than protecting the most vulnerable among us.