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New Study Analyzes Behavioral Health Care Utilization During COVID-19 Pandemic

For behavioral health directors

An analysis of insurance claims from the same periods in 2019 and 2020 found that mental health and substance use disorder inpatient admissions dropped through April 2020 — similar to decreases seen in physical health care services. However, subsequent behavioral health inpatient admissions increased through August 2020 at a much higher rate than medical services, with admission rates exceeding 2019 levels in the third quarter.  

The report, which was released last week and commissioned by Well Being Trust, examined 12.5 million individuals’ commercial insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare fee-for-service, and Medicare Advantage claims between January and August 2019 and January and August 2020.  

The analysis seeks to understand how COVID-19 affected mental health care in a similar, and at times, different way than medical health care. 

The study also found that with the exception of Medicare beneficiaries, when remote health care utilization was factored into individuals’ overall behavioral health care utilization numbers, there were primarily year-over-year increases across all insured populations.