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Pilot Program Puts Mental Health Patients in Charge of Their Care

During law school I did research about various efforts to put patients in charge of their own care, whether their issue is addiction, a disability or mental health. So I was very interested to read a piece that Newsworks' Laura Benshoff published about a pilot program in a Philadelphia suburb to put Medicaid patients with mental health issues in charge of decisions about their care: "It gives patients the option to redirect that money towards a 'freedom fund,' saving for something that improves quality of life. In addition, participants make decisions about care with a certified peer specialist as a recovery coach."

However, putting people in charge of their health care did not reduce costs. The first two years of the program showed that costs went up from $6,800 to $7,500 because "participants who had gotten used managing their symptoms tended to opt for more, off-plan services through the program – such as gym memberships – rather than cut back," Benshoff reports.