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Access to Care is a Challenge for those with Poor Mental Health

Access to Care is a Challenge for those with Poor Mental Health

Maine people with poor mental health describe significant challenges with affordability and access to health care.  A new report released by the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) and the University of Southern Maine, Mental Health Status and Access to Health Care Service for Adults in Maine, describes how adults 18 and older in Maine who report depression and poor mental health have many barriers to getting health care.  These results have important implications for planning in a time when major changes in health insurance coverage are expected.

Twelve percent of Maine adults reported experiencing two weeks or more of bad mental health days in the past month and one in ten had probable depression at the time they were surveyed.  People in both groups were significantly less likely to receive needed health care due to cost and were more likely to delay care.  These adults with poorer mental health status also were more likely to report paying medical bills over time than were adults with better mental health status.  Those with probable depression were much more likely to have health insurance through MaineCare, Medicare, or to be uninsured than those without depression.

Some bright spots in Maine include broad implementation of integrated primary care and mental health, within both patient centered medical homes and behavioral health homes, two initiatives developed under a series of federal grants, including the 2013 State Innovation Model grant awarded to Maine DHHS by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.  MeHAF dedicated nearly $10 million over a decade to advance integrated care.  “We acknowledge the progress that has been made and encourage continued improvement in the coordination between mental health and primary care,” said MeHAF President and CEO Barbara Leonard.

She further noted, “It is concerning that even after focused investments related to this issue, the data show that equal access to health care services still does not exist in Maine for some of our most vulnerable community members.  With major changes likely in how health care is paid for, we must keep individuals with mental illness top of mind to ensure that they get the care they need.”  

Mental Health Status and Access to Health Care Service for Adults in Maine highlights information from the ongoing federal/state public health survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).  MeHAF support allows inclusion of additional questions about access to insurance and health care services in the state’s BRFSS, which surveys a random sample of Maine people throughout the year.  Results from the compiled 2012, 2013 and 2014 surveys are included in the report.

Media Contact:  
Barbara Leonard, President & CEO, (207) 620.8266 x102, bleonard@mehaf.org 

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