Aetna Managed Disability Product Adds Depression Management Component

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, June 20, 1996 — Aetna’s Managed Disability, already an industry-leading product, is about to be enhanced with a depression management component to help reduce customers’ mental-health-related disability costs.

Aetna (NYSE: AET) announced the product enhancement today at the second annual Employer Behavioral Healthcare Summit in Salt Lake City. It will be made available to all Aetna Managed Disability customers starting in July.

Aetna’s Managed Disability program leaders teamed up with people from Human Affairs International (HAI), Aetna Life Insurance Company’s mental health subsidiary, during the three-day conference to help demonstrate to customers and brokers that comprehensive management of disability claims requires special management of mental health disabilities.

“We already partner with HAI physicians and use their expertise for the review of our more challenging psychiatric-based disability claims,” says Drew King, head of Aetna’s disability products. “But Depression Management may represent the first product initiative to blend Managed Disability and mental health expertise into a single product for the benefit of customers and members.

“We believe this additional focus on depression management will help our Managed Disability customers save substantially on disability costs,” says King. There is no additional cost to the customer for the new Depression Management component of Managed Disability.

Depression costs American companies $43 billion per year, which includes the cost of treatment, employee absenteeism and lost productivity. Among Aetna customers, seven percent of disability claims on average are of psychiatric origin. Some customers have a much higher rate of mental health disabilities.

Among the most difficult disability cases to resolve, a significant number of these cases drag on because patients don’t always take their medications as prescribed. That’s where Managed Disability’s Depression Management can be most effective.

Based on a similar HAI program, Depression Management uses educational materials emphasizing that depression is a treatable disease. The package includes:

– A cover letter and pamphlet that help employees understand depression as an illness and how to get better.

– A pamphlet encouraging compliance with medication therapy.

– A pamphlet educating the employee about the specific medication and its side effects, and a list of pertinent questions for doctors and pharmacists.

– A pill storage box designed to separate medication dosages so employees can clearly see the dosages and remember to take their medication on a regular basis.

Kits are mailed to employees’ homes in unmarked packages to protect their privacy. “We already use psychiatric case managers at each of our claim centers. With the addition of our Depression Management feature, Aetna’s ability to successfully manage psychiatric disabilities has been further strengthened,” says King.

In addition to helping individual members, the program will also help family members because many people do not understand depression.

“It will help them understand that their loved ones can’t just ‘snap out of it.’ Usually they need medication, and they need to take it faithfully,” says Dorothy Augusta, Aetna’s head of disability product development.

Aetna is one of the leading providers of Managed Disability, which uses nurse case managers to work with physicians on developing return-to-work plans to help employees regain their productivity and reduce costs associated with disability. One of Aetna’s fastest growing products, Managed Disability membership nearly tripled during 1995.

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