Practice Directorate surveys member satisfaction with insurance companies

The APA Practice Directorate is surveying a sample of APA practitioner members about their satisfaction with the nation's largest insurance and managed care companies.

by Legal & Regulatory Affairs Staff

September 29, 2009 — The American Psychological Association (APA) Practice Directorate is surveying a sample of APA practitioner members about their satisfaction with the nation's largest insurance and managed care companies. The survey asks members to rate how well they think the companies perform on critical issues such as whether patients are able to access mental health care, the company authorizes appropriate treatment and the company respects patient privacy.

The idea behind the survey is that employers, consumers, regulators and the companies themselves often have little sense of how the companies perform comparatively. One of the major reasons for this lack of information is that the stigma associated with mental disorders makes patients reluctant to praise or criticize companies to their employer's human resources department, to the insurance company or to state regulators.

We believe that practicing psychologists are in an ideal position to fill this information gap. They encounter a variety of conditions, and they frequently see patients insured by different companies so they can compare performance. In addition, psychologists are trained to understand what mental health care and what level of patient privacy is appropriate.

The Practice Directorate and APA Practice Organization (APAPO) will be publicizing the survey results to the groups noted above. Employers and consumers will be encouraged to use the information to make more informed choices when selecting companies to provide mental health care.

Further, the results will enable insurance companies to ascertain areas of strength and areas needing improvement. We hope that highlighting differences between the companies will encourage them to compete to provide the best care in order to attract more subscribers.

The survey was piloted at the end of 2008 in collaboration with New York State Psychological Association and the Georgia Psychological Association. The pilot results suggested marked differences between the best and worst companies, and the findings corresponded with the state associations' perceptions of those differences.

The Practice Directorate refined the survey and began to survey random samples of APA members in July. Survey sampling continues with a closing date planned for mid-October.

If You Were Selected to Receive the Survey

If you received this survey and have not yet responded, or if you receive the survey shortly, please complete it as soon as possible. We want your valuable insights on the companies with which you have worked. Importantly, a strong response rate will give us more robust data and allow us to provide ratings for more companies. Moreover, the higher the response rate for each state, the more your state psychological association and/or the APAPO will be able to use that data for state-specific advocacy.

If you previously received the survey but can no longer find the email, don't be concerned. The Practice Directorate will be sending reminder emails to those who did not complete surveys, including the link you need to start or finish the survey.

If you have questions, please contact the Legal & Regulatory Affairs Department at 800-374-2723, ext. 5886. For technical inquiries, please send a descriptive e-mail.