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LETTERS

The long wait for mental health care

I have spent a total of three hours in the past two weeks attempting to get an insurance company to authorize outpatient therapy for my patient.

I am adding my thoughts to those expressed by Dr. J. Wesley Boyd (“Insurer’s profit motive makes it harder for his patients to get the care they need,” Letters, Dec. 23). He refers to the length of time that clinicians spend trying to get mental health services for their patients.

I can attest to this, since I have spent a total of three hours in the past two weeks attempting to get an insurance company to authorize outpatient therapy for my patient. During my second attempt to reach the claims department (having been on hold for over an hour the first time), I then spent over another hour attempting to convince someone in that department that they backdate coverage (by two months) because I had made the grievous error of not obtaining authorization within the 30-day period since the patient’s appointment. You would have thought I was trying to obtain a pardon for homicide instead of attempting to provide a much-needed service to a patient.

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This particular insurance company makes it almost impossible for clinicians to speak with anyone. I once traveled to the insurance company’s main office and was allowed to enter the lobby only because I happen to be a member, as well as being a provider. Although I had made it very clear that I was there in my professional capacity, two people from “Member Services” were sent to speak with me, stating that the Provider Services Department “doesn’t speak to providers.”

I became a clinical social worker because I had, and still have, a strong desire to listen, empathize, and help patients find a way out of their distress. It is unconscionable that the insurance companies have so little regard for the well being of their members and attach no value to the work that mental health clinicians do, all day, every day

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.Judith Powsner

Waltham

The writer is a licensed independent clinical social worker and alcohol and drug counselor.