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Column: Let’s do away with insurance networks. They’re not lowering healthcare costs

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A SoCal man sought mental health treatment during the pandemic. He couldn’t find a single suitable therapist within his insurer’s network. This column is about the need for the U.S. healthcare system to pay more attention to mental health — a need that’s been made painfully clear by rising rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it’s also about coverage networks in general and the absurdly high cost of out-of-network care, which can run significantly more than the exact same in-network treatment and result in surprise medical bills .

“The recent trend has been toward smaller ‘narrow networks’ with relatively few providers,” said James Bailey, a healthcare economist at Providence College.

This is “good for insurers and a mixed bag for patients,” he told me.

I’ve been stewing on this since speaking the other day with Gary Smith, who has been grappling with depression for years, since before the coronavirus upended all our lives. The last 12 months have only added to his difficulties.

Among other things, the Sherman Oaks resident has dealt with the COVID death of his 78-year-old father. He’s faced his dog succumbing to cancer.“I don’t want to make it sound like it’s been worse for […]

Click here to view original web page at www.latimes.com

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