One Key to Controlling Healthcare Costs: Improve Behavioral Health
The relationship between behavioral health and overall healthcare spending
A detailed study by Milliman, one of the leading actuarial firms in the world, demonstrates a strong relationship between individuals’ behavioral health issues and their overall health care costs, and at the same time notes that spending to address these individuals’ behavioral health issues is a fraction of spending on their physical health.
One of the remedies, not surprisingly, is Whole Person care: “In particular, effective approaches for the integration of behavioral and physical health care…have been well studied and found to have significant potential for cost savings.”
Surprising Behavioral Health and healthcare cost numbers
While the link between behavioral and physical health is no surprise to anyone in behavioral health and human services, the magnitude of the numbers in the Milliman study may be.
- The most expensive 10% of individuals accounted for 70% of total healthcare costs, with those in this group each averaging $45,782 in annual costs, compared to $1,965 for the other 90% of individuals.
- Of those in the 10% high-cost group, 57% also were being treated for a behavioral health issue, compared to 27% for the rest of the study population.
- Spending on behavioral health treatments for the high-cost group was $2,620 per individual per year, or 5.7% of their total costs, compared to $531, or 15% of total costs for those with behavioral health treatments in the rest of the study population.
The Milliman study’s methodology didn’t allow for a causal link between spending on an individual’s behavioral health treatments and the amount of their healthcare costs, but the authors noted that other studies have found that integrating behavioral health into primary care settings can be effective at controlling healthcare costs.
Streamline’s SmartCare™ and Whole Person Care
Streamline’s SmartCare is a next generation Enterprise EHR platform for the Behavioral Health and Human Services market. It manages all types of services across all levels of care—including primary care integration— in a single application, rather than trying to connect disparate systems. Its unified architecture, interface, processes, workflows, and reports enable truly integrated care management.