Whether we are aware of it or not, COVID-19 has taken a toll on all of us … man, woman and child worldwide.
The tell-tale signs are widespread. In one of the first nationwide aggregate COVID-19 claims studies, Cigna is exploring how extensive the first-year impact of the pandemic is shaping the future of health care. The study found there was a 27% increase in behavioral health outpatient care compared to pre-pandemic levels. 63% of all behavioral patients were female (vs. 48% pre-COVID), with females seeking care at higher rates than males across all age and ethnic groups. 45% of those seeking behavioral care were under 30.
More depressing statistics: There was a 7.9% increase in use of antidepressant medications in 2020 vs. 2019. Nearly one-third (32.1%) of people taking antidepressants in 2020 had no history of use 6 months prior to their first prescription fill date.
Not surprising, mental health issues related to COVID are finding their way into the workplace. 93% of Human Resources decision-makers voiced concern about employees’ mental health. 57% of health plan decision makers had seen the value of mental health services increase more than most other services/benefits because of COVID-19.
One trend has accelerated since the pandemic began: telemedicine. Before the pandemic, virtual visits made up just over 1% of all medical and behavioral professional office visits that could be conducted virtually. Today, they make up nearly 25%. Primary care and behavioral services were the largest specialties utilized virtually in 2020: Over 1/5 of primary care was performed virtually. Nearly 2/3 of behavioral care was performed virtually. Over half of Americans (58%) are comfortable with virtual consultations replacing in-person visits, especially if it:
- Is more convenient (can remain at home/work): 47%
- Decreased costs: 44% Allowed for free virtual follow-ups: 37%
- Allowed for long-distance care (if out of area/traveling): 35%
Insureous Health Solutions has several excellent and inexpensive telemedicine plans for both individuals and groups. Contact us for a quote today.
And if you are seeking guidance or help for substance misuse or mental health issues, contact the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (www.samhsa.gov) or locally, Lakeview Health in Jacksonville, FL.
You can view the Cigna research study here.