Have Drug Treatment Services Suffered Under Managed Care?

Study of the impact of managed care on substance abuse treatment

Investigators at University of Pennsylvania's Treatment Research Institute and the Alcohol Research Group at the University of California, Berkeley (working under a subcontract) analyzed the impact of managed care on substance abuse treatment.

The investigators explored the:

  • Perspectives of states that purchase treatment benefits.
  • Real world experiences of clients who receive treatment under both managed care and fee-for-service arrangements.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) (for more information see Program Results).

Key Findings: Among the findings of the study:

  • While state substance abuse directors believe that managed behavioral health care is "sweeping the nation," they were not entirely convinced of its value.
  • People in Philadelphia and Contra Costa County, Calif., who received substance abuse treatment through managed care, appeared to reduce their substance abuse at the same rate as people who received treatment under fee-for-service arrangements.
  • Fee-for-service patients showed greater improvement in other areas of health and social functioning, indicating that it is important to understand how managed care can better serve substance abusers by addressing their other health and social needs.