BACKGROUND: According to the current standard of practice in modern medicine, medical decision-making is often forced to comply with stipulations of the insurance provider. In the field of psychiatry, there has been a trend of shortened psychiatric hospitalizations which some have suggested may be due to pressures related to insurance coverage. In Israel, soldiers have comprehensive medical coverage provided by the military, and this coverage includes full payment for psychiatric hospitalizations. In contrast, Israeli civilians are insured by the government according to a global payment system. In this study, we aimed to examine differences between these two groups in terms of length of stay (LOS) in psychiatric hospitals. METHODS: Data on psychiatric admissions of soldiers (aged 18-21) spanning the past 30 years was obtained from the military database (N=2,106). Corresponding data was collected on first psychiatric hospitalizations of a cohort of matched civilians (N=6556). The mean LOS of the two groups was compared. RESULTS: Civilians had a significantly longer LOS than soldiers. Moreover, LOS decreased between the seventies and the nineties for both groups, and the decrease was observed for all diagnoses regardless of disease severity. DISCUSSION: We conclude that in the managed care era, economic considerations may at times take precedence over psychiatric ones, irrespective of the degree of severity of illness. The parallel process is manifested in a general trend towards deinstitutionalization in the United States, Canada and Europe.
|Original language||American English|
|Journal||Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences|
|State||Published - 2010|