10 recent payer moves in behavioral health 

Health insurance companies have invested millions of dollars in behavioral health programs and technologies recently.

Ten recent moves:

1. Avera, a health system that includes Avera Health Plans, opened a new four-story wing at its Avera Behavioral Health Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Helmsley Behavioral Health Center adds 60,000 square feet and includes 24/7 behavioral health urgent care, observation care, youth addiction care services and partial hospitalization for youth. The wing also will house Avera's senior behavioral health unit.

2. Blue Shield of California's BlueSky youth mental health initiative provided funding that allowed the National Alliance on Mental Illness California to extend its high school campus clubs across the state. The expansion increased membership by 220 participants.

3. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is providing access to an online self-service platform provided by an independent company called Learn to Live. The platform is designed to help fill a gap for some untreated members who have been reluctant to seek care or had difficulty finding it. It is available for free to members who are at least 13 years old in most group health plans.

4. The CalOptima Board of Directors authorized a grant agreement of up to $1 million for the Be Well Orange Campus, a mental health and substance use treatment facility in Orange, Calif. The two-year grant aims to ensure CalOptima Medi-Cal members have timely access to services, assessment and placement into care through an improved intake and coordination process.

5. CareSource, the largest Medicaid plan in Ohio, is offering a new option with the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities and the nonprofit I Am Boundless, which provides support services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to provide respite care for caregivers of people with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges. It will offer services including after school and day programming.

6. The Florida Blue Foundation is making a $3.8 million investment to enhance mental health services in schools for under- or uninsured students and provide a safe environment for mental and emotional healing for members of the LGBTQ community, transgender individuals and victims of hate crimes.

7. Kaiser Permanente is providing members in Colorado access to a 90-day subscription to on-demand mental healthcare provider Ginger. Ginger provides confidential emotional support through coaching via text-based chats and skills-building content. 

8. Kaiser Permanente awarded a $50,000 grant to Mental Health America of Hawaii to support its youth resilience and wellness training and education program. The program will provide 1,300 youth and youth-serving adults with evidence-informed suicide prevention and bullying prevention training over six months.

9. Magellan Health launched eMbrace, a well-being program for employers with more than 500 employees. The program is built to address multiple areas of an individual's life to determine if they are thriving, struggling or suffering. Employees are directed to services and resources that address needs, including digital cognitive behavioral therapy modules, coaching and counseling.

10. UCare is funding $100,000 in stipends for mental healthcare clinical interns, focusing on cultural and ethnic minority groups, rural communities and other underrepresented populations where the workforce needs are greatest.

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