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NAMI Minnesota, 800 Transfer Road, Suite 31, St. Paul, MN 55114
MEDIA RELEASE – Nov. 30, 2017
Contact: Sue Abderholden, 612-202-3595 (cell), sabderholden@namimn.org

Reports Critical of Mental Health Care Access

St. Paul, MN  – The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Milliman Research released two big reports today highly critical of continuing disparities between access to mental health care and physical health care.  What they found was not good news for people with mental illnesses, said NAMI Minnesota’s executive director Sue Abderholden.

She remarked, “The data is in: the inequities for people seeking mental health care are real. And this means that people with mental illnesses aren’t getting the care they deserve.”

NAMI’s report began: “Each year, millions of Americans with mental illness struggle to find care. Nearly half of the 60 million adults and children living with mental health conditions in the United States go without any treatment. People who do seek treatment must navigate a fragmented and costly system full of obstacles.”

NAMI’s survey found that, despite the parity law, people lack the same access to mental health providers as they have for other medical providers.  It also noted that people with mental illnesses have experienced these inequities for years.

- More than 1 out of 3 respondents (34%) with private insurance had difficulty finding a mental health therapist, compared to only 13% reporting difficulty finding a medical specialist.

- When people did find a mental health provider, many were forced to go out-of-network and pay high out-of-pocket costs. This happened at much higher rates than when seeking primary or even specialty medical care.

- Over 1 in 4 people (28%) receiving mental health therapy used an out-of-network therapist, compared to only 7% needing to use an out-of-network medical specialist.

“The report from Milliman Research, data from private insurance plans confirms what we already knew: people must seek mental health care out-of-network much more frequently than for other health care,” Abderholden said.

- Psychiatrists are paid less than primary care doctors and medical specialists for the same types of services—even those under the same billing codes.

-  Milliman Research data shows a pattern of disparities in payment rates and access to mental health care under private health insurance across 50 states, three years and 42 million lives.

- The research found that nationally, for people with private insurance in 2015:

- Nearly 1 in 5 individuals (18.7%) received outpatient behavioral health care out-of-network—a rate 5.1X higher than primary care services and 3.6X higher than medical specialty care services received out-of-network.

- 1 in 6 individuals (16.7%) received inpatient behavioral health care out-of-network—a rate 4.2X higher than for other inpatient medical services.

The full reports can be found at https://www.nami.org/parityreport and http://www.milliman.com/NQTLDisparityAnalysis/.

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NAMI Minnesota is a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families through its programs of education, support and advocacy.