Date: 07 Oct 2005

Realigning Economic Incentives for Depression Care at UCSF

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Behavioral health carve-out arrangements create financial disincentives for primary care providers (PCPs) to treat depression. A novel collaboration between a primary care practice, a health insurer, and a managed behavioral health organization (MBHO) allows PCPs to receive reimbursement and schedule longer appointments to care for depressed patients. This article describes the details of the arrangement, and early results of this collaboration. Early results find that financial incentives are critical for implementation, but that time incentives do not appear to motivate PCPs. Sustainability of this model will require participation of multiple primary care practices, health insurers, and MBHOs.