Health care reforms and managed care for substance abuse services: Findings from eleven case studies
In 1992, the United States spent $820 billion on health care. For the same year, an estimated 15 percent of the U. S. population, approximately 43 million people, were uninsured. As health care costs continue to rise, the number of people able to afford coverage continues to decline. Given these statistics, it is not surprising that concern over health care reform is at the forefront of government policy. Over the past few years, policymakers have faced the challenge of creating a more cost-efficient, universal health care system. Many of the proposed reforms rely heavily on managed care practices and treatment limits to help control costs. The impact of managed care is already apparent in primary health care where private insurers have been using it for years (e.g., HMOs, PPOs). However, its full impact on substance abuse treatment services remains unknown. In this paper, we present the perceptions, opinions, and experiences of eleven drug treatment programs regarding the actual or anticipated effects of managed care and health care reforms on the delivery, financing, and costs of substance abuse treatment. We also present an analysis of these programs' current costs and financing. We believe that the information presented in this paper provides timely insights into the substance abuse treatment system; these insights should assist policymakers in developing optimal health care reform policies.