In recent weeks, we’ve looked at the causes and effects of rising patient costs in other specialty areas, such as ambulatory surgical centers and veterinary services. Today we turn our focus to another treatment area that has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last decade – behavioral health.
A decade ago, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAE), which was aimed at bringing parity to mental health treatment by requiring insurers to impose deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums uniformly as they would for medical/surgical procedures. Despite this legislation, last November a healthcare consultant, Milliman, released a survey reporting that behavioral care was four to six times more likely to be considered out of network than medical or surgical care. Results varied by state, with Milliman citing New Jersey (45% out of network) and Washington D.C. (63%) as two examples of the variance. Out of network typically means higher out-of-pocket for consumers, who often must decide whether to pay for treatment themselves. With an estimated 44 million adults in the U.S. potentially living with a mental illness, it is estimated that as many as 60% don’t receive treatment, despite the fact that spending on mental health crested $220 billion in 2014, making it the single most expensive condition that year. When asked why they don’t seek treatment in surveys, cost is the most common factor cited by those who need these services.
The recent opioid crisis has brought much-needed attention back to behavioral and mental health treatment in the recent past, and evidence suggests insurers are slowly becoming more accommodating in their plans. As we’ve written about in this space before, telemedicine offers a tremendous opportunity for behavioral health, as it can help reduce the cost of ongoing behavioral health treatment, a major cost driver for all involved. For patients who may need financing to cover their portion of costs for ongoing treatment, there are also other options. Our Curae solution offers flexible funding options within seconds of completing an application, without impacting a patient’s credit score. With providers getting paid within 48 hours after a charge has been processed, the result can be a win/win for both the patient and provider. For more information, visit Curae and submit an application today.