A study published by the Integrated Benefits Institute found that increasing screenings for depression could save benefit plans long-term on disability costs. Depression impacts 16.2 million Americans and costs employers $44 billion a year in lost productivity, according to the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. Disability wages due to depression cost $17 per year per employee. This is notably costly when compared to the next-highest chronic condition, diabetes, which only costs $2 per year per employee. Additionally, treatment of depression represents high medical claim costs, especially when treatment does not begin until symptoms are severe.
While non-grandfathered health plans are required under the Affordable Care Act to cover depression screening at no cost to the participant, only 1 in 10 individuals get the recommended screening. Many individuals are hesitant to address depression because they fear stigma around mental health issues. Plans may lower this stigma—and thus lower their costs—by encouraging participants to take advantage of depression screenings through the medical a plan or an EAP, or offer screenings at any health fairs or clinics sponsored by the benefit plan.