Mentally Ill Medicare Patients Less Likely Than Others To Receive Certain Types Of Surgery
Mentally ill people may face barriers to receiving elective surgical procedures as a result of societal stigma and the cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal deficits associated with mental illness. Using data from a cohort of elderly Medicare beneficiaries in 2007, we examined whether the mentally ill have less access than people without mental illness to several common procedures that are typically not for emergencies and are performed at the discretion of the provider and the patient. Results suggest that Medicare patients with mental illness are 30-70 percent less likely than others to receive these "referral-sensitive" surgical procedures. Those who did undergo an elective procedure generally experienced poorer outcomes both in the hospital and after discharge. Efforts to improve access to and outcomes of nonpsychiatric care for mentally ill patients are warranted.