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The Shrink Is Doing Less Shrinking And More Prescribing

August 5, 2008

ABC News has an excellent article discussing how the physician reimbursement structure is affecting the way psychiatrists practice medicine.  One key sentence perfectly summarizes the problem:

Today’s psychiatrists get reimbursed by insurance companies at a lower rate for a 45-minute psychotherapy visit than for three 15-minute medication visits, he explained.

Cognitive medicine (the process of talking to patients and carefully devising treatment plans to deal with illnesses) is reimbursed at a lower rate than doing procedures (diagnostic tests, surgeries, etc) across all specialities.  This sends a message to the physician community–your ability to think about a case and develop the best treatment plan is less important than doing actual work on the patient’s body.  Obviously this can lead to unnecessary tests and procedures and less open communication with patients themselves.

Our reimbursement structure is the key to reigning in health care costs and must be at the heart of any healthcare reform plan.

[original from Kevin, MD]

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