New federal laws may have increased employer health plan spending on mental health care and preventive services between 2010 and 2011, but the overall rate of increase was modest.
The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI)—a nonprofit think tank that uses data from Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET); Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM); Kaiser Permanente; and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH)—has published service-by-service data in a new group health plan cost report.
HCCI analysts found that health plans spent an average of $4,547 on health care per enrollee younger than 65 in 2011, up 4.6 percent from the 2010 average.
Use of most types of care decreased or increased only slightly.
Use of inpatient hospital care per 1,000 enrollees, for example, fell 3.5 percent in 2010, to 61.7, then fell another 0.5 percent in 2011, to 61.4.
Emergency room use rose 3.7 percent, but overall use of hospital outpatient services increased just 2.1 percent.
Use of outpatient services increased 1.6 percent, and use of professional procedures increased 1.2 percent.
In January 2011, employer health plans with more than 50 insured employees that provide mental health benefits had to start complying with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). MHPAEA limits large plans’ ability to put tighter limits on mental health care than on other types of care.