If an insurance company requires health care workers to call them every time they deem a patient in need of psychiatric care, and the call can take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours for the clinician, health care workers are going to think long and hard before they decide to seek inpatient admission for a psychiatric patient, even if the end result is almost always that the insurance company authorizes (i.e. agrees to pay for) the admission.
This is what I call “rationing by hassle factor,” a term I first heard used by my colleague Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH.
This kind of rationing happens all of the time and your insurance company profits as a result.
We deserve a health care system that is not driven by the profit motive. Stay tuned for more in upcoming weeks on this topic, including a paper to be published in the medical literature.