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Amphetamine Use, Abuse and Dependence Claim Lines Increased over 3,000 Percent in 10 Years

Anxiety Claim Lines Rose over 200 Percent, FAIR Health Study Shows

NEW YORK, NY—December 18, 2018—Private insurance claim lines for amphetamine use, abuse and dependence increased 3,157 percent from 2007 to 2017, according to a new behavioral health study by FAIR Health, a national, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information. Amphetamines include medications frequently used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (e.g., Ritalin), narcolepsy and obesity. Utilization of privately billed medical services for anxiety increased 242 percent in the same period.

The initial study results are shown in the infographic. FAIR Health is preparing a more expansive white paper on behavioral health (mental health and substance use disorders) from 2007 to 2017, to be released in the coming months.

The period from 2007 to 2017 marks the time from just before and since the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (Mental Health Parity Act). That law required most group health plans that cover physical and behavioral health to provide the same level of coverage for behavioral services as for medical and surgical services. FAIR Health data show that private insurance claim lines for behavioral health diagnoses increased 320 percent overall from 2007 to 2017.

The FAIR Health study is based on an analysis of data from its repository of over 27 billion claim records from 2002 to the present, the nation’s largest collection of private healthcare claims. Among the findings:

  • Claim lines with diagnoses of use, abuse and dependence of the following substances increased from 2007 to 2017 by these percentages:

    • Barbiturates—2,233 percent;
    • Hallucinogens—2,055 percent; and
    • Cannabis—585 percent.
  • Claim lines with the following diagnoses increased from 2007 to 2017 by these percentages:

    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—177 percent;
    • Major depressive disorder—172 percent;
    • Bipolar disorder—103 percent;
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)—65 percent; and
    • Adjustment disorders (including those with anxiety and depression)—65 percent.

FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd stated: “Behavioral health is vital to overall health, and the decade since enactment of the Mental Health Parity Act has seen significant growth in utilization of behavioral healthcare. Our ongoing study is poised to assist policy makers, researchers and others in understanding and improving the nation’s behavioral health.”

Click here for the infographic.

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