The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), United States Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) commissioned the present study to identify, document, and assess the factors that affect access to and utilization of new generation antidepressant and antipsychotic medications. Three primary questions guided this assessment:
- What are the formal policies and procedures implemented by health care payers that affect consumer access to and utilization of psychiatric medications? Are these policies and procedures different for psychiatric medications than for other medication classes?
- How does the implementation of these policies and procedures affect access to and utilization of these medications?
- Do policies, procedures, and modes of implementation (regardless of whether they differ for mental health) create barriers to adequate mental health care?
For the purposes of this study, access and utilization are defined in the broadest terms to include issues of awareness, acceptance, availability, affordability, and adequacy of treatment.
The study is designed to assist the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate existing and proposed policies in this area by developing important insights and knowledge concerning the complex processes related to access, utilization, and coverage of newer psychotropic medications from a variety of perspectives. This study is also designed to identify clinical and health policy issues where further research is needed.