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Government News
Screening, Brief Intervention Now Common in Insurance Plans
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 10 page 4-4

The U.S. government is not the only organization embracing substance abuse screening and brief intervention (SBI) services (see Federal Workers Get Coverage for Substance Abuse Screening): 58 percent of 150 U.S. private insurers are paying for it now or will be soon, according to the results of the eValue8 annual survey of the country's health plans conducted in December 2008 by the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH).

Major health insurers that pay for SBI under certain coverage plans include Aetna (nationwide), CIGNA (nationwide), Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin), Blue Cross of California, Blue Cross-Blue Shield in Georgia, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Minnesota, Empire Blue Cross-Blue Shield in New York, and Independence Blue Cross HealthPlus (Michigan).

"Most Americans who engage in risky and problem substance use never receive services that could help them avoid serious health and family problems, including addiction," said Richard Brown, M.D., a family physician and leader of an effort to implement SBI throughout Wisconsin, in a press statement.

"SBI prevents more disease and injury than most routine preventive services, such as screening for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and various cancers," Brown said. "Bringing SBI into the mainstream of health care will produce significant economic savings and, most importantly, improve the lives of millions of Americans."

According to the NBCH, eValue8 "uses a standard annual request-for-information survey to gather hundreds of benchmarks in critical areas such as adoption of health information technology, member and provider communications, disease management, program administration, provider performance, patient safety, pharmacy management, behavioral health, and financial stability." The data help major employers, among others, assess and manage the quality of their health care vendors.

George Washington University Medical Center's Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems program, an initiative sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts, works with the NBCH to develop survey questions and analyze the data collected through eValue8. ▪

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