The Relationship Between Insurance Coverage and Mental Illness Treatment
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Rising rates of mental illness leave researchers questioning the accessibility and effectiveness of mental healthcare. Individuals most at risk for narrow treatment protocols include our most socially and economically vulnerable groups. The purpose of this study is to analyze how insurance coverage (private, public, and uninsured) affects treatment patients with mental illness receive including therapy, medication, and alternative treatments. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2009) was used to analyze a representative sample of adults with a self-reported mental illness in the past year. Three regressions were run analyzing effects of insurance on treatment received controlling for basic demographic variables as well as mental illness severity (mild, moderate, and severe). Results confirm that uninsured adults are considerably less likely to receive mental health treatment compared to those with insurance. Several governmental safety-net policies have been implemented in order to control for discrepancies in the form of healthcare accessibility among underprivileged groups. However, this study reveals there is still a high percentage of uninsured individuals going without treatment. Findings contribute to the understanding of inequality by revealing the ways in which insurance mediates the mental healthcare market, leaving the uninsured population at the greatest risk for receiving no treatment.