Insurer notes economic impact of mental health, SUD in communities | Behavioral Healthcare Executive Skip to content Skip to navigation

Insurer notes economic impact of mental health, SUD in communities

November 29, 2016
by Tom Valentino, Senior Editor
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Depression, anxiety, mood disorders and substance use disorders are among the top five conditions impacting the commercially insured in the U.S., according to data in the new BCBS Health Index, a measurement tool launched Tuesday by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Assn. (BCBS).

The index, which incorporates deidentified data from more than 40 million BCBS commercially insured policy holders, is designed to identify health conditions with the greatest impact on the insured on a county-by-county basis.

The top five impactful conditions—in order, depression/anxiety/mood disorders; hypertension; diabetes; high cholesterol; and substance use disorders—cause about a 30% reduction in commercially insured Americans’ health, per the index.

An analysis of the data by Moody’s Analytics showed a correlation between communities’ health and the strength of their respective economies, with healthier communities also reporting better economic indicators. Moody’s found that, compared to the median, counties within the top 10% of the BCBS Health Index had:

  • $3,700 higher per capita income
  • 3.5% higher 10-year economic growth
  • A half-point lower unemployment rate

By pointing out the specific conditions impacting each community—the BCBS Health Index accounts for 200 common diseases and condition categories that affect overall health and wellness—the data provided by the index will help guide local governments on how to allocate their resources, said Scott Serota, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, during a news conference Tuesday in Washington.

“Part of the purpose for this is to ensure the investments we make in health are delivering the desired outcome,” Serota said. “By putting a benchmark out there and saying the goal is to improve the health of communities, you can evaluate when you’ve made a good investment and when you’ve not and need to make an adjustment.”

At launch, the BCBS Health Index includes only data from the 40 million commercially insured policy holders under the Blue Cross Blue Shield umbrella, but Serota said the organization hopes to be able to eventually incorporate data from those with publicly funded health plans.