Secret Shopper Analysis Shows Getting Psychiatry Appointment in New York City Is Well Kept Secret
OBJECTIVE: The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act prevents payors from imposing more stringent limitations on mental health and substance disorder benefits than medical and surgical benefits. In this study, we assess a New York City insurer's parity compliance based on the accuracy and validity of network-provided information and a consider legal framework to address this. METHODS: A "secret shopper" analysis was performed, in which researchers attempted to contact the 192 psychiatrist providers listed in the 2019 online directory of United Healthcare psychiatry providers. RESULTS: Only 3.1% of calls resulted in researchers booking an appointment. 50.5% of calls resulted in "no response", 18.75% connected to psychiatrists not accepting new patients, and 8.8% of listed providers stated they were not in the United Healthcare network. CONCLUSIONS: Erroneous directory information exacerbates the issue of access to mental health treatment. Enforcement policy should hold insurers accountable for the reliability of their online directories.
Tenner, N. L., Reddy, M., & Block, A. E. (2023). Secret Shopper Analysis Shows Getting Psychiatry Appointment in New York City Is Well Kept Secret. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-022-01006-9