Closing Care Gaps Between Medical and Mental Health

Monday, July 28th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Where there is chronic illness, there is most likely depression. And despite the stigma attached to behavioral health problems and treatment’s impact on PMPM costs, health plans are making it their business to connect affected members and patients with appropriate care. That’s one of the messages that came through loud and clear at last week’s Health Management Congress. Whether in a statewide wellness program for 45,000 employees and spouses or virtual medical homes for the Medicaid-Medicare beneficiaries in a Portland, Ore. plan, a strong link to mental health resources is increasingly part of the care plan. The plans readily acknowledge — and the data indicates — that this connection will drive up pharma and utilization costs for this population. But they also expect that these patients will be more likely to follow doctors’ orders for their physical issues, avoiding costly hospitalizations. And as one attendee noted, “what the health plan data doesn’t show us is the employee that can now go back to work and be productive.”

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