The implications and ramifications of this bill will increase pressure on health plans and employers who don't take action to address mental health issues within their populations - with a focus on prevention, early intervention, and treatment
Ann Arbor, Mich. (PRWEB) October 8, 2008
HealthMedia, Inc. the pioneer in applying advanced technology to emulate a health coaching session via the Web - without the coach - for wellness, disease management, behavioral health, medication adherence, and aging well, applauds the passage of the landmark mental health parity bill last week. This new legislation mandates that health plans and self-insured employers offer the same level of coverage for mental health as they provide for physical health. The company is advising health plans and self-insured employers to respond to the mandate by implementing safe, cost-effective, scalable, confidential options for treatment.
"The implications and ramifications of this bill will increase pressure on health plans and employers who don't take action to address mental health issues within their populations - with a focus on prevention, early intervention, and treatment," advises Dr. Richard Bedrosian, Director of Behavioral Health, HealthMedia. "There is already a critical shortage of clinicians to serve these populations, and although the new bill will undoubtedly increase coverage, it will not increase the number of accessible, qualified clinicians to meet the growing demand for treatment." According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, more than one in four adults suffers from some mental disorder each year.
HealthMedia's evidence-based programs offer health plans and employers early identification and intervention for those at risk, provide immediate access for those seeking help, and improve outcomes for those already in treatment. Because of the stigma associated with mental health issues, these online programs have had large-scale appeal to individuals seeking privacy and 24-hour access to help. Currently, HealthMedia's behavioral health solutions in the areas of depression, insomnia, eating disorders and stress have more than 17 million covered lives through organizations including Aetna, Highmark Inc., Kaiser Permanente, and McKesson.
"This is good news for patients across the country, as it elevates the importance of emotional health on par with that of physical health," said Andrew Bertagnolli, Ph.D., Senior Consultant - Behavioral Health & Pain Management, Care Management Institute, Kaiser Permanente. "Studies consistently show that a patient's psychological and emotional well-being is an important factor in many physical health conditions, from recovery from surgery, adherence to treatment and managing chronic conditions. For too long the healthcare system has supported a 'split' between the mind and the body; this legislation begins to bridge this split, insuring that patients receive equal coverage for both medical and psychological issues."
According to Frank B. McArdle, a health policy expert at Hewitt Associates, a benefits consulting firm, the law would force sweeping changes in the workplace. "A large majority of health plans currently have limits on hospital inpatient days and outpatient visits for mental health treatments, but not for other treatments. They will have to change their plan design," McArdle said.
Dr. Bedrosian stated that poor mental health significantly affects productivity, increases healthcare costs, and is co-morbid with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. "And with the stigma associated with mental health, it is vital for organizations to deploy solutions that are confidential and easily accessible at any time," he said. "By combining our tailored interventions with intelligent recruitment strategies, we can work with organizations to ensure the highest level of participation within any population."
About HealthMedia, Inc.:
HealthMedia, Inc. is the world's innovator in combining advanced technology and behavioral science to effectively emulate a health coach via the web. HealthMedia applies its revolutionary Fusion™ technology to address the five most problematic pain points facing the health industry today: participation, scalability, cost, efficacy, and return on investment. HealthMedia's suite of interventions provides automated web-based coaching for wellness, disease management, behavioral health, and medication adherence with proven outcomes, increased compliance, reduced medical utilization, and increased productivity - boosting profitability for health plans, employers, pharmaceutical companies, and behavioral health organizations. Clients include Community First Health Plans, Daiichi Sankyo, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente, GlaxoSmithKline and nine Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations across the United States. HealthMedia partners include APS Healthcare, Corphealth, Health Dialog, RedBrick Health Corporation, SHPS, StayWell, and Wellsource. For more information, visit http://www.healthmedia.com.