Comstock's magazine 1118 - November 2018 - Page 50

n Mental Health “Psychiatrists primarily take the pill approach to therapy — something that insurance companies see as a cheaper and hopefully quicker approach to mental health conditions across the board — regardless of the patient’s presenting problem.” - DR. ROY OSBORNE, PSYCHOLOGIST 50 comstocksmag.com | November 2018 private practices in the community, she says, “but providers willing to accept employer insurance rates has diminished each year.” Cohen recalls the frustration of dealing with various managed-care companies, such as Optum, a Minnesota-based health-services company that was the primary vendor for UC behavioral health services. It paid providers less than other behav- ioral health insurance companies and half the standard rate for sessions with patients who lacked insurance, Cohen says. Because of these lower rates, many providers would turn away potential patients. (Optum declined to participate or provide reimbursement rates after multiple requests.) Therapist Dr. Rory Osborne says some insur- ance companies haven’t raised their rates in years (over 30 years in the case of one insurance compa- ny he worked with), and it became a hassle to col- lect what he was owed. “They pay much more to psychiatrists [than to a psychologist with a Ph.D. or a master’s level coun- selor], even when the billing code is sometimes the same, because there are fewer of them,” says Os- borne, who has worked in public health systems and always had a private practice on the side, “and psychiatrists primarily take the pill approach to therapy — something that insurance companies see as a cheaper and hopefully quicker approach to mental health conditions across the board — re- gardless of the patient’s presenting problem.” Now Osborne operates independently because he can afford to. Cohen retired from UC Santa Bar- bara in July and now runs a private psychological and organizational consultation firm. This comes after years spent in “sometimes heated discus- sions” with the managed-care company’s lead- ership to raise rates, assist with recruiting local providers, both for counseling and psychiatry ser- vices. Cohen was vocal about the shortage of pro- viders willing to take insurance at the lower rate in the Sacramento area, because she knows how hard it is for people to ask for help at all. “If you’re having psychological distress, you’re only going to try so hard before you say, ‘Forget it, I will just continue to power through,’” she says. “For many, this is the first time they are actually seek-