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By Monica E. Oss

April 21, 2011

The last Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) survey of behavioral health treatment spending found that 53% of spending was through private payers—private insurance paid 33% and, surprisingly, individuals paid 20.6% directly via out-of-pocket cash payments (13% of U.S. Adults Receive Behavioral Health Treatment; Average Annual Expense is $1,500 ). Given the skew in spending, this represents the majority of consumers of behavioral health services.

This shift in the market metrics for mental health and addiction treatment spending has two implications for service provider organizations and professionals practicing in the field. First of all, does your organization provide a positive “consumer experience”? For consumers with a choice—and particularly for consumers paying out-of-pocket—the experience is key to competitiveness. We’ve discussed these evolving consumer expectations in the past:

The second issue is one of understanding the B2C (business-to-consumer) market for health services. Researchers estimate that about 60% of consumers seek out health care information online. And, it is your ‘web presence’ that will determine in large part how these consumers select your organization or practice. (see Enhancing the Consumer Experience: The Increasing Importance of Health Care Providers’ Web Sites and Calculate Your Organization’s Social Media IQ all members for additional information).

Do these factors really matter to your organization? Well, they matter quite a bit if you’re interested in attracting that half of the market that is paying for services through private insurance and out-of-pocket spending. And with half of the market on the line, your organization can’t afford to ignore this “consumer segment” of the market.


Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS


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