A new survey of U.S. employers shows increased awareness of employees’ mental health needs and continued support of telemedicine coverage post-pandemic.
Released Oct. 27, the 2022 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Survey includes 2,188 interviews conducted between February and July with non-federal public and private employers, capturing employer attitudes across multiple topic areas. This blog post will focus on survey responses regarding telemedicine and behavioral health.
Overall, 96% of large employers and 87% of small employers said they offered at least some healthcare services through telemedicine in their largest health plan. This is a considerable increase from survey findings three years prior, when 82% of large employers and 65% of small employers reported coverage of telemedicine services.
Two-thirds of employers said in this year’s survey that telemedicine will be “important” or “very important” in offering access to behavioral health services in the future. Large firms (55%) were more likely than small firms (36%) to say telemedicine will be “very important” in providing behavioral health access for employees.
Employers also reported increased demand for mental health services. Forty-eight percent of large employers and 22% of small employers reported an increase in the number of employees receiving mental health services in 2022 compared to 2021. Employers also expressed concerns about meeting their employees’ mental health needs. Fifty-two percent of large firms reported an adequate number of behavioral health providers in their networks to meet their employees’ needs, far lower than what they reported for access to primary care services (89%). Additionally, 43% of employers were at least somewhat concerned regarding the increase of substance use conditions among their workers, although only 2% said they were concerned “a great deal” about the growth of substance use conditions.
ACHI has previously assessed telemedicine utilization trends among state and public school employees in Arkansas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our analysis showed a strong surge in the use of telemedicine during the early part of the pandemic in 2020, with decreases in utilization by spring 2021. However, telemedicine use still remained higher in Spring 2021 compared to pre-pandemic utilization.
Opportunities for employers to address employees’ behavioral health needs warrant increased attention, with more than 1 in 3 American adults reporting in 2020 they had recently experienced poor mental health days. ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson offered six tips for promoting mental health in the workplace in a recent Arkansas Business column.