Breaking News
More () »

Insurance companies create hurdles for Arkansas mental health providers

Therapists across Arkansas have been dealing with various challenges that have made it harder for patients to get access to the mental health services they need.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The challenges that Arkansans have faced with mental health services are no secret— but what if the insurance company were to make it harder for a licensed therapist to see you?

Jessica Derrickson has been a licensed therapist for eight years, and in November, the future of her private practice was in question.

"All of sudden, I see what's called a rejection claim," Derrickson described.

According to her, a representative from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield told her that her credentials needed to be updated.

This created hurdles for Derrickson and patients who rely on the insurance company to pay for their visits.

"I didn't turn in what's called re-credentialing paperwork [and] that I am delinquent and no longer in the network," Derrickson said.

She explained that she never received the paperwork.

"I have had several clients call me crying, panicking, and freaking out," Derrickson explained.

We reached out to Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and as of Wednesday, a spokesperson said that the problem has been resolved and Derrickson is reinstated in their system.

Derrickson said this was a simple misunderstanding, but she isn't alone with this challenge.

Dr. Buster Lackey with NAMI Arkansas said the process of recertifying this information is an issue far too common for mental health providers in Arkansas.

"I'm in good standing with the state, then I should be in good standing with insurance companies," Lackey said.

He added that getting authorization to accept insurance has also been challenging.

"[It] took me almost a year in the process when I first got Medicaid," Lackey said.

Due to this, he shared that many licensed therapists opt out of accepting particular insurances altogether.

"A large reason why people don't receive services is because of costs and because they're forced to go out of network," Lackey said.

Patients typically have two options, he said, when this happens— pay out of pocket, which can be expensive, or be referred to someone else.

Moving forward, Dr. Lackey hopes insurance companies can find a way to make the re-certification process more simple. 

"I went to school to help them, I didn't go to school to worry about insurance and insurance companies," Lackey explained.

For resources on mental health care in Arkansas, click here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out