New York HMOs were rated slightly above the national average by consumers but should do more to treat mental illness, according to an annual, state-funded report by the New York State Health Accountability Foundation. The report evaluated the state's 20 commercial HMOs on 18 measures of access, service and patient care using 2002 data that the plans submitted to the state. On most measures, New York HMOs met or exceeded the national average, with 65% of patients giving their HMOs a score of 8 or higher on a 10-point scale, compared with 62% nationally. However, 79% of patients said they were able to get care quickly, compared with 80% nationally. Some 25% said they had problems getting needed care, and 35% said they had problems with customer service. National figures weren't available in those areas.
Among patients with depression, 23% had multiple follow-up visits in the first three months following diagnosis, and 44% were treated with antidepressants for at least six months. The state Legislature has been considering a bill that would require mental healthcare coverage to be comparable to coverage for other conditions. Read the report. -- by Laura B. Benko