Managed Care and Unmet Need for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Care in 1998

Published in: Psychiatric Services, v. 51, no. 2, Feb. 2000, p. 177

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by Roland Sturm, Cathy D. Sherbourne

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Although managed care is generally associated with a reduced intensity of care, no recent national data are available about how plans using more or fewer managed care techniques differ in meeting the perceived needs of their enrollees. This report demonstrates the importance of defining access to care more broadly. If unmet need is defined as no care at all, as in previous studies, it would appear to have declined under managed care. However, no such decline is found when the definition also includes less care or delayed care. Thus, while managed care may have improved access to some treatment, significant problems remain in providing access to comprehensive care.

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