The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation released its 2018 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey in December. The Foundation has been conducting an annual survey since passage of the state's Health Reform Law (Chapter 58) in 2006. For the first time, this year's survey included questions focused on patient access to behavioral health and substance use disorder services. While Massachusetts has more mental health care providers per capita than any other state, an uneven distribution of providers exists across the Commonwealth, leaving many residents without access to the full range of behavioral health services, including treatment for addiction. According to the report, the issue is not rooted in health coverage but rather in the types of insurance providers will accept for payment of those services.
A 2016–2017 survey of outpatient mental health providers in Massachusetts found that 45 percent of providers did not accept MassHealth, 38 percent did not accept Medicare, and 16 percent did not accept commercial insurance. As a result, the Foundation's survey uncovered that a startling 39 percent of patients who need mental health services go without treatment and 13 percent turn to their local hospital's Emergency Department for help. The report also points to recent state investments for building up the behavioral health workforce, including the League's DSRIP initiative, which provides recruitment incentives such as loan repayment for attracting behavioral health clinicians to practice in community settings.
The findings of the 2018 Massachusetts Health Reform Survey are reported across several documents. To read the reports, please click HERE.