Mental health-related insurance claims in the United States have risen by 108% between 2007 to 2017, according to the new independent analysis from FAIR Health. This report was published by the non-profit American health insurance research body. The study found that the leading cause of mental health claims was Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), despite the fact that its prevalence in claims dropped from 28% in 2007 to 26% in 2017.
The biggest increase came from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) claims, rising from 12% to 22% in the same period. FAIR Health president Robin Gelburd said that the study provides a strong foundation of key indicators of behavioral services among the privately insured.
The report revealed that among adults, the greatest increase in GAD claims came from the age groups of 23 to 30 years and 61 to 70 years. The claim numbers for these age groups rose 275% and 282% respectively.
The larger share of claims was recorded overall for 23 to 30-year-olds, with numbers rising from 0.36% of all medical claims for the age group in 2007 to 1.34% in 2017.
This is compared to figures for those aged 61 to 70 of 0.06% in 2007 and 0.24% in 2017.
FAIR Health mentioned that increase in mental health claims across all age groups may be due to the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act. This is the US law that extended insurance coverage for mental health conditions to larger employer-sponsored healthcare plans.
Later an amendment in 2010 was made as a part of the Affordable Care Act, it now also applies to smaller group and individual plans. FAIR Health reports that much of the burden of the increase in the mental health disorders is borne by the young Americans. Although the prevalence of MDD increased overall from 2005 to 2015 the rate of increase was faster in youth.
The report points that the reason behind this increase is growing academic pressures, greater use of social media and smartphones, as well as an increase in school shootings as potential explanations. But a definitive answer cannot be given.