Collision Course: Physical Healthcare & Behavioral Healthcare

Change is on the horizon for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) especially with an impending replacement due at any moment. Originally, the two primary goals of the ACA were to increase quality of care with a decrease in the cost of healthcare in the U.S.  Incentives built into the law to increase coordination of care was a big part of how these goals were meant to be achieved.

The current healthcare model tends to separate physical health from mental & behavioral health, whereas the new model brings them together. It’s already happening in community health centers around the country.  In the past, these clinics have primarily focused on physical healthcare services, but since the ACA has passed, this has steadily been changing.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) stats

About 70 percent of HRSA-supported health centers provide mental health counseling and treatment. With almost 40 percent provide substance abuse counseling and treatment, and close to 20 percent are offering 24-hour crisis intervention services. Plus the number of patients receiving behavioral health services at health centers increased by more than 21 percent since 2010 – the largest increase among all reported services in that time period.

Physical & Behavior Integration

We’re seeing an increased integration between physical healthcare and behavioral healthcare services at behavioral health organizations around the country.  The Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration (PBHCI) Program, which was developed and implemented with the vision of improving the physical health status of people with mental illnesses and addictions. This initiative has resulted in improvements to: access to primary care services, prevention, early identification and intervention to reduce the incidence of serious physical illnesses, increased availability of integrated, holistic care for physical and behavioral disorders, improved overall health status of behavioral health clients.

As more and more physical healthcare services are provided by behavioral health organizations, it is more evident that medical professional liability policies are going to come into play. We know the ins and outs of coverage for Community Health centers/Clinics, both business and professional, which is important because, in general, the carriers that have traditionally written professional liability for behavioral health organizations have not shown much of an interest in covering these new medical malpractice exposures.  In fact, the behavioral health organization needing medical malpractice coverage has often been forced to get it placed on a stand-alone basis.

For more information on where medical malpractice intersects with physical & behavioral healthcare, contact us, today!

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