New Milliman Report confirms the Crisis of Access to Mental Health Care Worsening, especially for Children and Adolescents

November 22, 2019

According to a new report, “Addiction and Mental Health vs. Physical Health: Widening disparities in network use and provider reimbursement,” from Milliman, it is clear that despite efforts to enforce mental health parity, the lack of access to children’s mental health care is getting worse. AACAP knows firsthand that this dangerous trend for children and their families is a reality that policymakers can no longer ignore.

This important report found that a child’s mental health office visit is 10.1 times (1,000 percent) more likely to be out-of-network than a primary care office visit, and twice as likely as an adult mental health office visit. Further, patients’ utilization of inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities are over 500 percent more likely to face out-of-network charges for behavioral health care than medical/surgical care. Additionally, spending for mental health care has not shifted, despite the dire need, and sits at just 2.4 percent of overall health care spending. This report, once again, affirms AACAP’s commitment to highlighting the inadequate access and parity for children’s mental health care. AACAP is committed to helping its members provide children and adolescents with the best possible mental health care, which must include affordable access to care through greater in-network behavioral health benefits. While growing the psychiatric workforce is an important link to improving access to quality mental health care, flawed medical review criteria by insurance companies, along with known barriers to joining insurance panels, such as limiting in-network providers, have led and fueled this crisis.

What is clear is that state and federal lawmakers, insurance regulators, and employers must make concerted efforts to ensure mental health parity is a reality, and that patients can access the mental health care they need. AACAP supports the call to hold Congressional hearings on the current state of mental health parity enforcement and oversight.