Many Medicare Advantage beneficiaries have few choices for psychiatrists

Many Medicare Advantage plans have narrow networks for psychiatrists when compared to Medicaid managed care and ACA plans, a study published in the July issue of Health Affairs found. 

The study found that two-thirds of psychiatry networks in Medicare Advantage were narrow, containing fewer than 25 percent of psychiatry providers in the plan's area. Around 40 percent of networks for psychiatrists in Medicaid managed care and ACA plans were narrow. 

An average of 1 in 5 psychiatrists in network service areas participated in Medicare Advantage plans, compared to 1 in 3 in ACA plans. More than half of the counties included in the study had no psychiatrists participating in Medicare Advantage plans. 

"Our findings offer upper-bound estimates of network breadth, raising concerns about MA enrollees' access to mental health services amid the growing prevalence of mental health conditions among older adults," the study's authors wrote. 

The study was written by researchers at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pittsburgh. 

Read the full studyhere. 

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