This study examines the use of public and private psychiatric services in a seven-county area that includes Kansas City, Missouri. The first part of the study identified all persons who applied for psychiatric services during a one-year period, and all persons on the books in public and private sectors on a given day. The two populations were then compared to yield data on patient turnover. The second part of the study focused on the utilization patterns of 611 persons who applied for psychiatric services at Western Missouri Mental Health Center. Patients in the study were predominantly short-term users of services, including outpatient services. The authors discuss the implications of those findings for health-insurance coverage of psychiatric care.