Experiences with insurance plans and providers among persons with mental illness

Kathleen Rowan, Nathan D. Shippee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: This study used nationally representative household survey data to examine the association between mental illness and experiences with usual care providers and health plans among persons with public or private insurance (N=25,176). Methods: Data were from the 2004-2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys. Mental illness was assessed with symptom scales of serious psychological distress and depression at two time points, and persons were categorized by whether mental illness was episodic or persistent over time. Questions about experiences with providers (four questions) and plans (five questions) were based on the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. Rates of problems with plans and providers were reported for each category of mental illness, and multivariate regression was used to examine the association of problems with mental illness. Results: Rates of problems with health plans were high, specifically for treatment approvals, finding information, and customer service, and were higher among persons with mental illness. Rates of problems with providers were lower than problems with plans, but persons with mental illness were more likely to report problems, specifically that doctors do not explain treatment options, respect treatment choices, or seek participation in decisions. Conclusions: Persons with mental illness reported experiencing more clinical and administrative problems at their usual source of care, although the reasons were not clear. Efforts by plans to improve health care before and after the clinical encounter and by providers to design treatments in line with patient preferences may improve experiences for all patients and particularly for those with mental illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-288
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


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