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December 1974

Insurance for Mental Health: A Viewpoint on Its Scope

Author Affiliations

From the Center for Social Research Graduate Center, City University of New York (Dr. Muller); and the Department of Psychiatry, Community Mental Health Services, Roosevelt Hospital, and the Department of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York (Dr. Schoenberg).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(6):871-878. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760180107014

Insurance, although important as a finance source for certain subsets of mental health services, plays a restricted role in the financing of their aggregate costs and the delivery of care to low-income groups identified as having unmet needs. The present level of insurance reflects the location of initiative and leverage within the health care market and the trade-off of economic interests involving professionals, consumers, carriers, and employers.

Various methods of cost control, a prerequisite in any insurance program, differ as to expected mechanisms of action, side effects, and power. A consumer-oriented insurance system must deal with problems of quality control related to competing conceptual models governing therapy today. A comprehensive health care system would facilitate improvement of mental health insurance.

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