Large employers' selection criteria in purchasing behavioral health benefits

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To determine the criteria other than cost large employers use in selecting and monitoring behavioral health benefits, this study interviewed 31 of 44 (70.4%) randomly selected corporations employing at least 5,000 workers. While more than 60% of employers considered administrative efficiency and provider access to be very influential in their selection of behavioral health benefits, only 12.9% (95% confidence interval 0.7%-25.1%) considered clinical outcomes. Employers who considered clinical outcomes in their purchasing decision reported significantly greater satisfaction with the quality and cost of their behavioral health benefits. Following selection, 38.7% of corporations used employee complaints to monitor quality problems in their behavioral health benefits; 3.2% used clinical outcomes. If society expects employers to purchase behavioral health care on the basis of quality as well as cost, more employers need better indicators of quality.

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