In dispute between insurer & providers, people seeking mental health suffer

If you’re looking for timely mental health care, and you pay Blue Cross Blue Shield for your health insurance, you’re probably not going to get it if the therapist isn’t taking new patients.

The Star Tribune reports today that because the state’s largest insurer paid too much for claims last year, it’s cutting reimbursement rates dramatically this year and providers are responding by refusing to take on new patients who are Blue Cross Blue Shield customers.

The Art of Counseling clinic in St. Paul has had its insurance reimbursement cut by a third, the paper says.

The insurance giant denies people are losing access to mental health care.

“The majority of providers affected by this issue have either already submitted payments in full or have agreed to a payment installment plan,” the company said.

The Minnesota Department of Health says there’s nothing it can do. Insurers are allowed to recoup overpayments.

None of this, of course, is the fault of people who today are calling health care providers looking for help and being given a familiar answer.