Your Health: 4-24-13 Mental health patients' hospitalizations - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Your Health: 4-24-13 Mental health patients' hospitalizations

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New research reveals how long it takes mental health experts to get patients with severe mental illnesses approved to be hospitalized.

The three-month study found in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, reports U.S. psychiatrists spend a total of 1 million hours on the phone each year getting insurance companies to approve hospitalization for the patients.

Researchers looked at psychiatrists in the Boston area and found that they spent an average of 38 minutes per patient on the phone getting insurance authorization.

They found about one in 10 cases took more than an hour to get approval, and one case took up five hours of the psychiatrist's time.

Each year in the United States, there are about 1.6 million psychiatric admissions for patients with private insurance.

The study did not include uninsured patients or those covered by Medicare, which does not require prior authorization.

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