a thought-leadership piece written by Jennifer Jones, Director of Health Strategy
A recent FAIR Health White Paper examined the nationwide increase in behavioral health disorders, including both mental health and substance use disorders. The number of diagnosis for these conditions grew over 108% during a recent 10-year period with the most common disorders being major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Also notable, opioid dependence overtook alcohol dependence for top substance use disorder.
While it is not necessarily clear why the significant increase in mental health claims, it is likely in part to the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act of 2008, allowing for better access and coverage of behavioral health treatment. The significant increase in pediatric diagnosis is, specifically anxiety, further likely related to factors including social media/smartphones as well as school shootings.
Even though the cause is not particularly clear, the impact on overall health and employer-sponsored health plans is evident. Across the Springbuk platform, employers on average, see a 12% prevalence rate of mental health disorders, with a per member per month cost of $95. And while many other conditions contribute significantly more cost, it’s important to point out the impact of mental health conditions on several other comorbidities, particularly orthopedics and gastrointestinal disorders. Employers and employees have seen significant increases in caring for these conditions over the past several years from both a medical and pharmacy perspective. Individuals with depression correlate to higher incidents of joint pain (specifically knee and hip). People with arthritis are also more likely to experience anxiety and depression than those without the condition. In a similar fashion, people with just one gastrointestinal symptom are more likely to have depression and anxiety than those without. It is difficult to determine if one condition drives the other, but it is important to establish the impact mental health can have on treating other costly conditions and overall quality of life and productivity of individuals with these conditions.
Opioid rx to mental health
In knowing the increase in mental health prevalence and impact on other conditions, Springbuk’s Health Intelligence platform can identify the trends and opportunities within your population. By utilizing Springbuk Insights, users can quickly identify members that have a mental health condition and at least one other chronic condition, as well as members that are at risk for opioid abuse. Surfacing these key categories eliminates the time for data mining and searching for answers, allowing more time for implementing thoughtful solutions to help address the higher level issues and assist members. Our Insights provide suggestions on addressing these issues, high-level strategy and practical tools to implement these strategies. Being able to track outcomes and progress is a key component to any program, but particularly of interest to ongoing mental health issues. Springbuk allows you to more easily asses the effectiveness of programs and initiatives.
In addition to identifying specific categories of mental health, our platform allows you to evaluate additional subsets of the member population by using our dynamic filter bar. This allows users to compare subsets based upon multiple filters such as:
- Dependent status
- Age and gender
- Enrollment status
- Existing conditions
- Location or division
- Total spend
This additional detail can provide further insight into the affected population.
The FAIR study was clear in the significant increase of mental claims related to behavioral health disorders. By leveraging the Springbuk platform, users are presented with key areas of opportunity to address the issue and manage the conditions to maximize the value of your health management investment.