Don't Give In To Demands of Managed Care, Says Panel

Excerpts from Psychiatric News: June 18, 1999, p.10
APA's 1999 Annual Meeting

Professor Bursztajn said that all doctors should practice what he called "economic informed consent." "It's very important at the beginning of treatment to review and inform the patient of all the [treatment] alternatives that might be helpful to the patient-not just the ones that are covered," he advised. 'Also,' he continued, 'you need to be able to support patients' freedom of choice. And if you have to terminate treatment because the [insurance] company is denying benefits, you need to go ahead and support the patients in advocating for themselves.' The goal, said Dr. Bursztajn, is to aid the patient in obtaining whatever documentation he or she (or their attorney) needs to show that the treatment is essential, a right no managed care organization should be allowed to deny.

If the insurance companies force physicians to drop certain patients, physicians should pass on that information and be up front about the reasons. Just dropping patients without telling them why can harm them, even push them into developing a posttraumatic stress disorder, advised Dr. Bursztajn. 'You have to be honest with patients from the beginning of treatment, to the middle of treatment, to the end of treatment,' said Dr. Bursztajn.