Let’s Talk About Mental Health

A woman with grey hair sits on her couch having a conversation with her doctor on her tablet

You are not alone.

That’s a welcome sentiment for anyone confronting a health challenge. Every May, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) puts this phrase front and center in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s an important time each year to show support and reduce stigma. And it sure seems particularly crucial this month as we begin to emerge from the COVID era.

The pandemic has brought a well-documented spike in prescriptions for antidepression and antianxiety drugs—upwards of 34% in some reports. We've seen a 13.75% increase in the number of our members taking medications to treat mental health conditions. As of right now, this category of drugs accounts for nearly 14% of all our active savings opportunities.

Behavioral Health Meds - By the Numbers: #2 medication category with active ways to save; $6.4 million in total savings during 2020; 9.1 million claims process since April 2020
Despite complex and nuanced scenarios with this category, members continue to look to us for affordable options.

But here’s the honest reality when it comes to drug pricing and mental health: It’s a sensitive topic. Our Vice President of Pharmacy has mentioned this before. Discussions around cost savings for mental health medications can be complex since drug efficacy is more subjective in many of these cases.

That complexity, however, shouldn’t result in people struggling to afford their medication—or worse, skipping it altogether.

The good news is that our members are not alone.

Paired with their doctor’s guidance, our solution adds a layer of transparency to an otherwise confusing and complicated category of prescription drugs.

Empowerment, First and Foremost – We present members with options and information that lead to productive conversations with their doctor. From there, it all comes down to what makes sense from a clinical and cost perspective. And it’s not just the member who feels empowered. We know doctors don’t always have visibility to what prescriptions end up costing their patients.

No Stone Unturned – Members may have concerns about switching to a therapeutic alternative, especially when it comes to these types of medications. But there are lots of other options out there. More than 45 percent of our savings opportunities for behavioral health drugs keep the member on the same treatment. A quick switch in fulfillment (mail order or a different pharmacy) or dosage form (pill vs. capsule), and the member (and their health plan) can find significant savings.

Affordability = Adherence – This is what it’s really all about. The human and financial costs of nonadherence are clear. As is the role affordability plays in keeping people on track. So, as we raise awareness about mental health this month, we'll also continue to help our members stay adherent by showing them affordable options.

As the stats here show, sensitivity around price shopping and behavioral health medications isn’t stopping our members from seeking ways to save. As people become more engaged healthcare consumers—both with their mental and physical health—we’ll keep giving our members pricing information about medications that can help them take charge of their lives.

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