News

Title
person with head down against wall
Teetering at the Precipice of Anxiety and Depression Crisis – How Can HR Respond?
Oct 7

BY CYNTHIA MCGRATH | OCTOBER 7, 2020

The Trends and Why They Could Get Worse

The pandemic has upended everyone’s life and the strains are showing in the escalating rates of anxiety and depression. In March, 32% of U.S. adults reported that their mental health had been negatively affected due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. This rate jumped to 53% in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s July Tracking Poll. Adults are also reporting specific negative impacts including:

  • Difficulty sleeping – 36%
  • Difficulty eating – 32%
  • Increases in alcohol or substance use – 12%
  • Worsening chronic conditions – 12%

Social isolation, job losses, racial tensions, and balancing work and home responsibilities are taking a toll. People who have lost their jobs or work in healthcare have seen a dramatic increase in mental health disorders. Other at-risk populations include:

  • Older adults age 65 and over who are especially vulnerable to developing serious illness from the coronavirus and are more likely to be socially isolated as a result report more worry and stress since March (47% compared to 27%).
  • Women and Men with Children Under the Age of 18: Fifty-seven percent of women and 49% of men with children under the age of 18 reported negative mental health impacts due to worry and stress from the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Young Adults Age 18 to 24: Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data reveals that one in four young adults say they considered suicide during July because of the coronavirus.

Sadly, behavioral health disorders could get worse due to the uncertainty of the upcoming election, working parents navigating the stresses of COVID-related school logistics, and need to move indoors in colder weather. “Being outside has kept our mental health steadier,” said Michael Thompson, president and CEO of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. “But looking forward into the fall and then into the winter, we’ll be more on our toes as the weather potentially influences our ability to engage outside.”

Although medical-related claims dropped dramatically in the first half of this year, behavioral health claims have increased 14% for edHEALTH compared to the first six months of 2019. Personality disorders, psychiatric disorders, and alcohol-related disorders have jumped:

Behavioral Health Illnesses Effect on the Workforce

The risk for depression among U.S. workers has risen 102% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic—and 305% for workers aged 20-39, according to new research conducted by Total Brain, a mental health and brain performance self-monitoring and self-care platform provider. The study found that stress, anxiety, and depression are leading to drops in employees’ cognitive performance. The ability to sustain attention – to complete tasks – dropped by 31% compared to pre-pandemic metrics. The ability to plan and make decisions was down by 15%.

Impacts to High-Risk Patients

In addition to affecting employees’ resiliency and wellbeing, mental health disorders also take a toll on people with chronic health conditions. Known as comorbidity – having mental and physical health conditions at the same time – is common, and behavioral disorders for edHEALTH’s top 5% high-risk patients increased 33% over 2019 for the first six months of the year. These are the same patients at high risk for complications from COVID-19. Expenses for behavioral health comorbidity on medical claims run 2.8 to 6.2 times higher (depending on the condition) than those of people without a behavioral health condition according to a 2020 Milliman study.

What are Potential HR Solutions to This Conundrum?

Human Resource departments are on the front lines of navigating the emotional fall-out from the pandemic. Seventy-nine percent of our members identified digital mental health solutions as a top strategic priority, in line with national trends. Behavioral health digital solutions is one of the ”hottest areas in health care“ with over a billion dollars invested in just the last few years, according to a 2019 Observer article.

Accessing behavioral health services virtually has exploded since the onset of the pandemic although use is beginning to moderate as patients return to doctor offices for in-person visits. Virtual care is safe, convenient, and confidential. Telehealth visits through Teladoc and Doctor on Demand, provided by our health plan administrators, Tufts Health Plan, Trustmark Health Benefits, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, have exploded. edHEALTH saw similar results with telemedicine, where patients accessed their provider virtually instead of in-person. Through July, there were over 24,400 more telehealth visits than the previous year. Of those visits, 24%-32% were for behavioral health services, depending on the school. The top reasons for accessing telehealth were:

  • Adjustment disorder with depressed mood
  • Adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Many behavioral health providers don’t accept insurance due to low contracted reimbursement rates. A 2019 Milliman study found lower in-network reimbursement for behavioral healthcare professionals than their medical/surgical counterparts. The same study revealed that patients were 5.1 times more likely to go out of network for inpatient mental health care compared to medical care, and 4.8 to 5.9 times more likely to use out of network care for outpatient mental health needs compared to primary care visits.

Digital vendors are helping to address provider shortages, minimize wait times, and reduce the stigma associated with seeking care. Through exclusive contracting arrangements, ease of scheduling, and convenience, digital behavioral health solutions are exploding with 22,000 now available. Although only 11% of employers currently offer mental health apps, 30% plan to offer in the next few years. The Pacific Business Group on Health identifies seven uses of digital mental health care:

edHEALTH in collaboration with our member institutions will be looking at these solutions and evaluating how to best help our colleges, universities, and charter schools – and their faculty, staff, and family members.

edHEALTH Adds Three Board Members Brandeis University, College of the Holy Cross, and Wellesley College Represented

Mar 22
Photo of 3 new board members: Marymichele Delaney, Melissa Fletcher  and Sam Solomon

(March 22, 2022) - edHEALTH announced today three new members were elected to the edHEALTH LLC Board of Managers and the edHEALTH Insurance Exchange (edHEALT...

Continue Reading

Unstoppable Healthcare Cost Pac-Man Gobbling Up Valuable Resources - Discover 3 cutting-edge risk management levers to unlock savings

Dec 16
Unstoppable Healthcare Cost Pac-Man Gobbling Up Valuable Resources - Discover 3 cutting-edge risk management levers to unlock savings

BY CYNTHIA MCGRATH | December 16, 2021Unstoppable healthcare costs are eating up resources that companies and governments could better use to advance other i...

Continue Reading

What is Advanced Primary Care and why is it an Important Healthcare Policy

Dec 31
Principles of Primary Care graphic by Primary Care Collaborative.

BY CYNTHIA MCGRATH | November 15, 2021Primary care practices, which are crucial in providing coordinated, efficient, and high-value care, were severely impac...

Continue Reading

Read our October Update with Guest Post about the Cost of Musculoskeletal Conditions, Shareable Content for Employees, and More

Oct 31
Read our October Update with Guest Post about the Cost of Musculoskeletal Conditions, Shareable Content for Employees, and More

Inside our October 2022 newsletter, you'll read about:Our November 2 virtual and free Thought Leadership Series with Human Resources leader Megan NailThe Cos...

Continue Reading

edHEALTH President and CEO featured in Global Captive Podcast

Sep 6
GCP image for interview about edHEALTH

Hear from edHEALTH President and CEO Tracy Hassett as she was interviewed with Spring Consulting’s Managing Partner Karin Landry in a recent GCP Short. In th...

Continue Reading

More on the Rx Front: The slow emergence in the U.S. of biosimilars for curbing specialty costs

Apr 27
infusion medication on IV

Last month we highlighted how both cost and utilization are increasing when it comes to prescription drugs. Much of the increase is due to the rise in specia...

Continue Reading

Planning for Your 2023 Annual Open Enrollment: 4 Strategies to Consider for Greater Success

Sep 26
3 women talking at conference table (photo by Photo by Yan Krukov)

Photo by Yan KrukovSince the pandemic, most employers have seen significant shifts in how to manage open enrollment periods. From big fairs onsite to virtual...

Continue Reading

How do you Ensure Healthcare Equity in Keeping with Your Institution’s Diversity and Inclusion Goals? It Takes a Systemic Approach

Aug 24
Boston inequity between white and black person

BY CYNTHIA MCGRATH | August 9, 2021Racial justice protests and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color have shone a light on the need...

Continue Reading

On the Rx Front: More breakthroughs, continued increases in prices Understanding the big picture, and how we all play a role in trying to control costs.

Mar 29
image of woman with her 7-day pill box.

Healthcare experts, employers, and consumers alike recognize the significance prescription drugs have in today’s world. Thanks to clinical innovations in the...

Continue Reading

Annual edHEALTH President Letter for Member-Owners

Jan 25
look back at 2021 and look ahead to 2022

Dear Colleagues,Strength.  Resilience.  Support.  Collaboration.  Opportunity.  Hope.  Trust.  These are just a few of the words that come to my mind as we l...

Continue Reading

Read our latest newsletter - featuring why prescription costs are on the rise and much more

Mar 30
Photo of  tablet by NordWood Themes

Learn about:The big picture when it comes to medication breakthroughs, their costs, and how we all play a role in trying to control costsedHEALTH's 3 new boa...

Continue Reading

Why Employers Must Focus on Improving Workplace Mental Health - 3 Strategies to Support Employees

Oct 20
mental_health_spelled_in_scrabble_tiles

BY CYNTHIA MCGRATH | October 21, 2021The Mental Health Crisis and Its Effects on Employees and EmployersThe pandemic has upended lives and led to increased r...

Continue Reading

edHEALTH talks healthcare trends in the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts member newsletter

Apr 7
trend data report

The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICU MASS) offered edHEALTH the opportunity to discuss one of the biggest trends f...

Continue Reading

Why is it a Challenge to Control Rising Healthcare Costs? It's the Prices

Mar 18
Projected healthcare consumer spending 2021

BY CYNTHIA MCGRATH | MARCH 18, 2021The U.S. is spending nearly 20% of its Gross Domestic Product on healthcare services, which crowds out other needed produc...

Continue Reading

Tracy Hassett Selected Vice Chair of the Vermont Captive Insurance Association

Dec 15
Captive Insurance

Educators Health Exchange President, Tracy Hassett, was selected Vice Chair by the Board of the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA). VCIA is the lar...

Continue Reading

What are Biosimilars? Learn more about this emerging Rx trend and more in edHEALTH's April newsletter.

May 3
Image of tablet or mobile phone with in-box highlighted

Read about: The emergence of biosimilars for curbing specialty costsGearing up for edHEALTH's 5th annual Walking ChallengeNews and tips for spring health and...

Continue Reading

Understanding the value and costs of cell and gene therapy

Jun 30
Photo by National Cancer Institute

Understanding the value and costs of cell and gene therapyInnovation in health care is constant and is marked often by significant breakthrough treatments an...

Continue Reading

Supporting mental health awareness in the workplace should be year-round: Tips to help employers and more in our May newsletter

May 31
Mental health matters (image of ipad)

In our most recent newsletter, you'll learn:Why workplaces should support employees with mental health awareness year-roundHow telehealth continues to be an ...

Continue Reading

Discover summer safety tips to share, the value and cost of cell and gene therapy, and edHEALTH annual meeting news

Jun 30
cell and gene theapy

In our summer newsletter, you'll findAn overview of the value and cost of cell and gene therapyShare-it downloads for promoting summer safety among employees...

Continue Reading

Point32Health Selects UnitedHealthcare as its National Network – What This Means to Tufts Health Plan and HPHC Members

Nov 10
Providers across the nation

Point32Health, the combined Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care organization, selected UnitedHealthcare as its national network provider effect...

Continue Reading

What do consumers think about their employer-provided health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Jul 28
Doctor with phone for telehealth call

It’s a question that America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) asked in a recent survey that the Locust Street Group completed on behalf of AHIP Coverage@Work....

Continue Reading

Share-it Employee Engagement Communications

Sep 22
edHEALTH employee engagement share-it communications

edHEALTH provides share-it employee engagement communications to help member school employees navigate and maximize their healthcare benefits. Check out thes...

Continue Reading

edHEALTH President & CEO Talks Advanced Medical Stop Loss at VCIA on August 11, 2022

Aug 9
Tracy Hassett speaks at VCIA on 8-11-22

Want to learn more about Captive Insurance? Join edHEALTH's President & CEO, Tracy Hassett, along with other industry leaders, talks about medical stop l...

Continue Reading

Sign up for our free Thought Leadership Series on November 2, read tips for a successful open enrollment and more

Oct 17
Megan Nail - thought leadership webinar on 11/2/22

In our September newsletter, you'll discover:How to sign up for our free virtual Thought Leadership Series on November 2 with industry leader Megan Nail4 str...

Continue Reading

Join us on Monday, May 9th at 10 AM for our Virtual Thought Leadership Series: Wellness Programs - Perception vs. Reality - featuring Leena Johns, MD

Apr 6
Join us on Monday, May 9th at 10 AM for our Virtual Thought Leadership Series: Wellness Programs - Perception vs. Reality - featuring Leena Johns, MD

Now more than ever. employers need to look at reality over perception and understand the true data of their employees and covered family members’ healthcare ...

Continue Reading

Tracy Hassett, edHEALTH's President and CEO elected as the new Board Chair

Oct 27
Tracy Hassett edHEALTH President & CEO

Great news for the Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA), as they've selected edHEALTH President & CEO to be their new Board Chair. The VCIA, one ...

Continue Reading
Top shadow

Contact Us

866.692.7473

Contact edHEALTH today for more information.