Most people wouldn’t be surprised to hear that chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, arthritis and cancer are major drivers of healthcare cost for employers.  What may be a surprise is how frequently those chronic physical health conditions are comorbid with mental health conditions.  In a nationally representative epidemiological survey 29% of those with a medical disorder were found to have a comorbid mental health condition.  Conversely, more than 68% of adults with a mental disorder reported having at least one general medical disorder.

The Impact of Comorbidity

Various studies have shown that addressing mental health conditions in comorbid cases can reduce the severity and duration of co-existing physical health conditions.

The presence of mental health conditions significantly affects the cost of care for comorbid physical conditions.  Consider diabetes, a very relevant example considering more than 100 million American adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes according to the CDC. Studies have shown that healthcare expenditures for patients with diabetes and depression are 2 to 4.5 times as high as those of patients without depression. .According to one study, the coexistence of depression and diabetes is associated with increased mortality and morbidity, including higher rates of complications, increased disability and lost productivity, lower quality of life, and increased risk of death.Diabetes testing equipment and medicines

In a recent Open Minds Daily Executive Briefing newsletter, Sarah Threnhauser described the costs incurred for patients with comorbid depression and chronic physical conditions compared those with the physical conditions alone.  Her findings indicated:

  • The cost of care for heart failure was 29% higher when the consumer also had depression
  • The cost of care for coexisting rheumatoid arthritis and depression are 7.2% higher than RA alone.The cost of care for coexisting osteoarthritis and depression are 38.8% higher than OA alone.
  • Those with cancer and depression had total annual healthcare expenses 113% higher than those with cancer alone.

Threnhauser also noted how frequently some chronic physical health conditions occur with mental health conditions.

  • 43% of consumers with depression are obese. Obesity and depression form a vicious cycle. Obesity makes it more likely that a person becomes depressed and depression make in more likely that a person becomes obese.
  • In a national sample of adults with diabetes almost 33% of the survey sample of US adults with diabetes had either unrecognized depression, asymptomatic or symptomatic depression

A Proactive Solution For Employers

Recognizing the high and growing cost of chronic disease and the impact of comorbidity on costs and treatment, Espyr has developed an innovative solution called Spotlight. Spotlight enables employers to proactively identify and provide behavioral health coaching to employees with comorbid mental and physical health conditions.

Spotlight is a behavioral health coaching product supported by a rich data set.  Using a proprietary algorithm, Spotlight identifies those employees who are at highest risk of driving healthcare expenses and who are most likely to engage with interventions.  Once employees are identified, they are connected with the appropriate behavioral health coach from Espyr’s national network of behavioral health professionals.  Interventions could include:

  • Behavioral health coaching
  • Stress, depression and anxiety support
  • Relationship support and coaching
  • Financial consultation

Spotlight enables employers to focus their healthcare dollars where they can have the greatest return on investment.  Plus, the rich data set supporting Spotlight improves the efficacy of Espyr’s behavioral health coaches, which in turn will lead to more successful outcomes.

Learn More

To learn more about Spotlight and other Espyr products that enable employers to proactively reduce healthcare expenses and increase productivity, call Espyr at 888-570-3479.