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Reimbursement For Psychologists’ Services: Trends, Impact on Access to Psychologists, and Solutions

Reimbursement For Psychologists’ Services:

Trends, Impact on Access to Psychologists, and Solutions

Gordon I. Herz, PhD

Madison, WI

May 2009

Efforts to fully integrate psychological services into the broader health care system will fail unless the problem of fair compensation for such services is solved. Reimbursement for psychologists’ services under managed care has been declining in real dollars for at least the past 20 years.  The financial viability of the independent practice of psychology has been devastated by this trend.  Consumer access to psychologists in managed reimbursement environments continues to worsen, with declining numbers of contracted psychologists, and false claims by managed care about the numbers who remain.  A for-profit, managed reimbursement financing system is fundamentally incompatible with the independent practice of psychology and unfettered access by the public to doctoral level psychological services.   Organized psychology must acknowledge the damage caused to the provision of psychological health services by for-profit reimbursement schemes, utterly reject such an approach in any reformed system, and develop and implement a comprehensive set of actions to usher in a new health care delivery, financing and reimbursement system.  Reimbursement trends and resulting limitations in the public’s access to psychologists are  documented, and recommendations for roles, strategies and actions for our professional organizations are provided.

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