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Cigna: COVID-driven demand for virtual behavioral healthcare remains high

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A new analysis from Cigna looks at the spike in demand for virtual behavioral healthcare under the pandemic. (Getty/airdone) Many people who sought out behavioral healthcare services amid COVID-19 had never done so before, according to new data from Cigna.

Cigna analyzed claims data from March to May 2020, the time of the initial lockdowns nationwide due to the pandemic, and found that 97% of people who accessed behavioral health services during that period never had a behavioral healthcare claim before.

The insurer’s study also found a 7.9% increase in the use of antidepressants in 2020 compared to 2019. Nearly a third (32.1%) of people who took antidepressants last year had no history of taking them six months before their first prescription, Cigna said.

Cigna found a 27% increase in outpatient care visits for behavioral health needs compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the study.

The majority of those seeking behavioral healthcare (63%) were women, according to the study, with female patients more likely to seek out such care across all age and ethnic groups. Nearly half (45%) of people seeking behavioral healthcare were under 30.

The explosion in telehealth use, however, offers a significant opportunity to get at those challenges, the study found. […]

Click here to view original web page at www.fiercehealthcare.com

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