The effect of insurance type on trauma patient access to psychiatric care under the Affordable Care Act

Daniel H. Wiznia, Julianna Maisano, Chang Yeon Kim, Theodore Zaki, Hochang B. Lee, Michael P. Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective The objective of the study was to assess the effect of insurance type (Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance or cash pay) on patients' access to psychiatrists for a new patient consultation. Method 240 psychiatrists identified as interested in treating patients with PTSD were called across 8 states. The caller requested an appointment for her fictitious boyfriend who had been in a car accident to be evaluated for PTSD. Each office was called four times to assess the responses for each payment type. From each call, whether an appointment was offered and barriers to an appointment were recorded. Results 21% of psychiatrists would see new patients. 15% of offices scheduled an appointment for a patient with Medicaid, compared to 34% for Medicare, 54% for BlueCross and 93% for cash pay (p < 0.001). Medicaid patients confronted more barriers to receiving appointments and had more trouble scheduling appointments in states with expanded Medicaid eligibility. The overall number of Medicaid patients who would be able to theoretically schedule an appointment in states with versus states without expanded Medicaid eligibility was approximately equivalent. Psychiatry practice characteristics, such as whether the practice was academic, were not significantly associated with acceptance of Medicaid. Conclusions Access to a psychiatrist for a new patient consultation is challenging. Despite expansion of the Affordable Care Act, substantial barriers remain for Medicaid patients in accessing psychiatric care compared to patients with Medicare, private insurance or those who pay cash.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Access to care
  • Affordable Care Act
  • Bone/psychology
  • Fractures
  • Health services accessibility
  • Mental health services
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Traumatology organization and administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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