Little Is Spent on Treating High-Cost Patients’ Behavioral Health Conditions

While a small proportion of people who have behavioral health conditions in addition to physical conditions account for 44% of all health care spending, most of that spending is on physical rather than behavioral treatment, according to a new study by Milliman, Inc., commissioned by The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use. In fact, 50% of all patients with behavioral health conditions had less than $68 of total annual spending for behavioral health treatment, and another 25% had very limited spending on behavioral treatment — between $68 and $502 per year. “While the Milliman report did not study the effect of COVID-19 on mental health, its analysis of 2017 claims data provides a baseline for estimating the potential subsequent impact of the pandemic on the treatment of behavioral conditions and medical spending,” Andy Keller, Ph.D., president and CEO of Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, said in a press release about the findings.

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Jinghong Chen Reporter

Jinghong produces infographics and data stories on health insurance and specialty pharmacy for AIS Health. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting. Before joining AIS in 2018, she worked at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese.

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