Availability of Health Insurance Exchange Network Psychiatrists for the Largest Insurance Carriers in Washington, D.C.

Study Aims and General Approach

The American Psychiatric Association Foundation research team telephoned a randomly selected sample of 150 psychiatrists publicly listed as network psychiatrists for the three largest health insurance carriers on the DC Health Link Health Insurance Exchange to assess:

  1. The proportion of callers who were able to schedule an appointment for a mental health outpatient visit with the network psychiatrist.
  2. The number of days to schedule an appointment for an outpatient mental health visit.

We also assessed whether the listed phone numbers were working, whether the psychiatrists practiced at the location, and whether we were able to contact someone at each of the offices during a seven calendar day period from February 22, 2016-March 21, 2016. At least three calls were placed (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) to contact un-reachable physician's offices.

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Key Findings

Incorrect and Non-Responsive Telephone Numbers

  • 23% of the phone numbers were non-working or non-responsive: For all the network psychiatrists studied, 23% of the listed phone numbers were either non-working or non-responsive and never returned any messages over seven calendar days.
  • Only 51% of the psychiatrists were practicing at the listed phone numbers.

Rates of Accepting and Scheduling New Outpatients with Target Insurance

  • Only 14% of the callers were able to actually schedule appointments.

Wait Times for New Outpatient Mental Health Appointments

  • The average wait time for new outpatient appointments was nearly three weeks.
  • Only 7% of the listed network psychiatrists were able to schedule a new outpatient appointment within two weeks.

Primary Conclusion: Majority of Network Psychiatrists Unreachable or Unable to Schedule New Appointments

  • Overall, 86% of the Network Psychiatrists were either not reachable or not able to schedule a new outpatient mental health visit.