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Family doctors expect 30% more behavioral health patients

September 4, 2014
by Julie Miller
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Managed care organizations (MCOs), psychiatrists and primary care physicians (PCPs) anticipate a significant increase in demand for drugs treating major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to Decision Resources Group.

They attribute the trend to the expansion of Medicaid—now in 26 states and the District of Columbia—and the availability of coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance exchanges. Among 72 surveyed psychologists, respondents expected to treat 14 percent more patients with these three indications on average. Among 72 surveyed PCPs, the expected increase is much greater: 30 percent more patients.

The 44 surveyed medical and pharmacy directors of MCOs indicate that the preferred drug lists found within the new exchange health plans are similar to traditional group health plans. They also report that branded behavioral drugs such as Brintellix (vortioxetine), Saphris (asenapine), and Fanapt (iloperidone) are excluded less often from exchange plans than from commercial group plans. Abilify (aripiprazole) is broadly used for all three indications and has a scheduled generic launch in 2015, which will likely increase its utilization, especially within Medicaid plans, according to the analysis.