Treating Depression: The Battle Continues

Despite advances in health coverage, disparities in the U.S. remain when it comes to who’s getting help in the treatment for depression.

According to a new study from Emory University, even though outpatient treatment for depression in the U.S. has risen steadily in recent decades, the treatment is still lower than expected, indicating that costs are not the only barrier to care. Using data from more than 86,000 patients from 1998, 2007 and 2015, researchers found that rates of outpatient treatment for depression rose from 2.36% to 3.47% during that period, with a rising share of treatment costs covered by insurance, particularly Medicaid.

The study also showed that per-patient spending on prescriptions for depression and the average number of prescriptions both fell.

Nationally, spending for outpatient depression treatment rose from $12.4 billion to $15.6 billion between 1998 and 2007 – an increase of about 25% – before reaching $17.4 billion in 2015.

Yet annual prescription expenditures reached $603 per patient in 2015 – down from $848 in 1998 – while the average number of prescriptions per patient fell from 7.64 to 7.03 in that time frame.

The study highlighted federal policy changes – particularly the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and the Affordable Care Act of 2010 – that have helped improve access and treatment rates by reducing the cost of care for depression patients.

For example, between 1998 and 2015, the share of spending on outpatient depression treatment that came from uninsured patients fell from 32% to 20%, while the percentage of treatment covered by Medicaid rose from 19% to 36%. Yet despite more widespread health coverage in 2015, disparities remained in treatment rates. For example, the treatment rate for whites was more than twice the treatment rate for blacks, and was also significantly higher for females than for males.

The overall treatment rate remains far below reported rates of depression among some groups in the U.S., the study notes. From 2013 to 2016, 8.1% of Americans 20 or older had depression in a given two-week period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Such gaps indicate there are “substantial barriers” beyond payment that keep people from receiving treatment for depression – including an issue that has been keeping those who prescribe medication on their toes. There have been major studies linking both alcoholism and prescription drug abuse to depression. With malpractice insurance continuing to skyrocket, despite advancements made in non-addictive treatments, it’s no wonder that some psychiatrists are avoiding depression treatment with medications such as such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, and as of 2015 about 50% of patients are being treated through talk therapy.

It’s in scenarios like this where a tool like Centipede can be beneficial to the psychiatrists, the patients, the insurance companies and the regulatory agencies as it makes the patient’s complete medical record, including data across all disciplines, easy to access and understand.

By supporting all formats of medical information and taking a multifunctional approach to patient evaluation – by compiling all medical, pharmaceutical and clinical patient historical information in one place – this enables the provider to better evaluate and diagnose the type of depression the patient may be suffering from.

And because Centipede would also provide critical information and treatment options to help the psychiatrist in their decision making process, the industry as a whole would benefit as the overall costs would come down, thus allowing more patients to get the proper psychological care they deserve.

See What Centipede Can Do For You

Centipede Advantage Software is a new data-scrubbing and algorithm engine that aims to revolutionize the healthcare industry by making holistic patient data easy. Easy to use and implement, Centipede supports all formats of medical information in addition to satisfying medical exchange policies and is considered by its MD-founders to be the first major step in solving healthcare’s inefficiencies.

Centipede Advantage Software's objective is to reduce redundancy. Preventative healthcare is the priority.

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