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Health Insurance Providers Stepping Up on Mental Health


Published Jan 12, 2020 • by AHIP

Mental health and physical health are closely connected.

About 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). And only 43% of those individuals received treatment.

Did you know mental health impacts physical health as well? NAMI notes that “people with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population.”

And so, health insurance providers are seeking new ways to reach members who are struggling and make the care they need available, accessible, and affordable.

  • Cigna is collaborating with MDLIVE to make mental health care more convenient by enabling patients to schedule via virtual visits (by secure video or phone) with providers. This benefit is in addition to other behavioral health solutions Cigna has in place, including a 24/7 crisis line, and digital platforms to help people cope with stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Through its Resilience in School Environments (RISE) initiative, Kaiser Permanente – along with partners Discovery Education and Alliance for a Healthier Generation – is providing training and resources for teachers and administrators in schools around the country to help them combat stress and anxiety for students and staff alike. According to the CDC, 1% of children have diagnosed anxiety and 3.2% have diagnosed depression.
  • A 2019 study from the PEW Research Center found 70% of U.S. teens identified anxiety and depression as major problems among their peers. Blue Shield of California launched its BlueSky program to provide mental health awareness and resources to schools in California, focusing on middle and high school-aged children.
  • Health insurance providers including Cambia Health Solutions and Centene Corporation are making investments in Quartet, a health care technology company that connects with primary care providers to match patients to in-person or virtual mental health resources depending on their needs.

Fortunately, innovations in mental health care delivery – including secure phone and video options – are making it easier for patients to access high-quality care when and where it’s most convenient for them, bringing providers and resources to rural or otherwise underserved areas.