New survey data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows that 75 percent of Americans with behavioral health conditions are continuing therapy services during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the prevalence of telehealth and other digital health services. Further, while 42 percent of people reported delaying a health care appointment due to the pandemic, only 16 percent have delayed a mental health appointment.
Magellan, the company Independence partners with for mental health services, has seen a 1500 percent increase nationally in behavioral health telemedicine claims comparing February 2020 to the beginning of April 2020. Independence’s data shows more than a 3,000 percent increase in the use of behavioral health telemedicine between the week ending March 15 and the week ending April 15.
The BCBSA data also show that certain negative behaviors — including alcohol consumption, smoking, vaping and nonmedical drug use — have risen since the outbreak began. These behaviors can lead to anxiety and major depression. With people coping in different ways, the report recommends that Americans continue to seek the care they need, whether in-person or via telemedicine, to ensure that they can get and stay healthy.
Independence is helping members with anxiety and stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering telemedicine coverage for behavioral health, online cognitive behavior therapy modules, and stress reduction and improved sleep modules on Achieve Well-Being. Independence offers a comprehensive COVID-19 Preparedness Tool developed by Quil, a digital health venture of Independence and Comcast. Stop, Breathe & Think, is another tool Independence is offering members at no cost until June 14, 2020. The app provides effective ways to alleviate feelings of anxiety, reduce stress, and find peace of mind.
This month, Independence Blue Cross launched the #mindPHL Together campaign, co-sponsored with the City of Philadelphia, to bring an improved community understanding of mental health and well-being, reduce the stigma associated with needing mental health support, and offer vital support needed by those impacted by mental health challenges.