Finding a Psychiatrist

Peter ForsterGPS Update Leave a Comment

Finding a psychiatrist is often hard.

If you have insurance, you have paid that company to provide you with access to care. They are legally required to have an adequate list of psychiatrists who can provide care to the people they insure. They often don’t do that. Many of them have “phantom networks” – lists of people who are supposed to be able to provide care but who, for one reason or another, are not available. If you want to see an “in network” provider you may have to be very vocal.

Getting your insurance to pay

In a separate post we have written in detail about the challenge of getting your insurance company to provide you with the care that they are required by law to cover. You may be able to get them to pay for an out of network psychiatrist if you can’t find an in network psychiatrist who is available to see you.

The key to doing this is both simple, and annoying, keep track of every call you make to find a psychiatrist. Date, time, name of psychiatrist, phone number, and what happened (did they call back? were they not accepting patients, etcetera).

It is likely that you will have to make a number of calls. For many reasons, you should create a spreadsheet that allows you to track the calls that you make.

This is so important that I have created a spreadsheet that I encourage you to copy and use for this process.

Sad to say, you may have to call a good psychiatrist a couple of times to get a response. I find this disconcerting, but I have heard from enough people that this is true that I now suggest that you place two calls to a psychiatrist before giving up.

If you have placed two calls to ten psychiatrists who are listed on your insurance company’s website as available to see new patients, you should read the post about how you may be able to get your insurance company to pay for care provided by an out of network psychiatrist.

What if you are willing to pay out of pocket?

A colleague has written a very thoughtful article about how to find a good psychiatrist. I encourage you to read it.

More on Finding a Psychiatrist – From a Trusted Colleague

What if you live where there are very few psychiatrists?

Finally, if you are in a part of the country where there are few psychiatrists, you may want to consider an alternative to traditional psychiatric care: find a primary care doctor who is willing to prescribe your medications and find a telepsychiatry psychiatrist who can consult with you and your primary care doctor.

I provide this kind of care to people throughout California, and find that it is often as effective as traditional care. And it requires a lot less travel time…