Patient cost-sharing for ambulatory neuropsychiatric services in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

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Hamidi S, Abouallaban Y, Alhamad S, Meirambayeva A. Patient cost-sharing for ambulatory neuropsychiatric services in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Int J Ment Health Syst. 2016 Apr 21;10:34. doi: 10.1186/s13033-016-0066-6.

Neuropsychiatric disorders are of high concern and burden of disease in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The aim of this study is to describe patient cost-sharing patterns, insurance coverage of ambulatoryneuropsychiatric disorders, and utilization of neuropsychiatric services in Abu Dhabi.

The study utilized the data published by Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD) and the American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology (ACPN) records in Abu Dhabi. The data were collected from the ACPN to describe patterns of insurance coverage and patient cost-sharing. The data included information on patient visits to the ACPN from January 1, 2010 till May 16, 2013. The data also included insurance coverage, total cost of treatment for each patient and the amount of coinsurances and deductibles paid by each patient. Additionally, the study utilized data published by HAAD on health servicesutilization, and health insurance plans in 2014. The percentage of total costs paid by patients and insurance were calculated by insurance groups and health service. Insurance plans with different patient cost-sharing arrangements for mental health treatment benefits were divided into three groups. ANOVA and MANOVA analyses were performed to test for differences among three categories of neuropsychiatric services (neurology, psychiatry and psychotherapy) in terms of the total costs andpatient cost-sharing. The data were analysed using STATA version 12.

About 36 % of the total costs on ambulatory neuropsychiatric services was paid directly by patients; 1 % of total costs was covered by patients as co-insurances and deductibles, and 63 % of total costs was covered by insurance providers. The average cost per visit was about 485 AED ($132), including 304 AED ($83) paid by insurance and 181 AED ($49) paid bypatient. About 44 % of total costs was related to psychiatry services, 28 % of total costs was related to neurology services, and 28 % of total costs was related to psychotherapy services. Using ANOVA analyses, statistical differences were found among three categories of neuropsychiatric services in terms of the total costs and patient cost-sharing. These findings provide hint on some degree of association between patient cost-sharing and neuropsychiatry services utilization.

The determination of parities in the coverage and finance between neuropsychiatric and physical healthservices will help policymakers make informed decisions on regulations of health insurance plans. Given the level of unmet need for neuropsychiatric services in Abu Dhabi, there is a need to fully include neuropsychiatric services in all basic and enhanced insurance plans. The study provided a description of patient cost-sharing and coverage of neuropsychiatricservices in order for policymakers to recognize the disparities of the coverage and the degree of economic burden on households.

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