Participate In Study About High Deductible Insurance Plans

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is partnering with researchers at Harvard Medical School and Northeastern University to study employer-sponsored health insurance. Specifically, we’re looking at the impact of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) for people living with bipolar disorder.

Increasingly, employer-sponsored group health plans have adopted HDHPs. These plans typically feature lower monthly premiums, but have higher out-of-pocket costs including the deductible and copays for services. They are designed to confront people with the costs of their own health care, so that they will make wise healthcare choices.

When the deductible and copayments are combined, a family in an HDHP may face up to $12,900 in total out-of-pocket expenses. People who have major chronic illnesses or illnesses characterized by crisis periods may find it hard to cope with this type of plan.


To understand the effect of HDHPs we are conducting a study and would like your feedback.




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Study Aims
Our study will look at de-identified historic insurance claims and see what happened to individuals with bipolar disorder when the employer who sponsored their insurance switched all of their plans from traditional health insurance to HDHPs.  Analyses of the claims data will examine medication use (e.g., adherence vs discontinuation), mental health specialist visits (i.e., are patients being seen regularly?), adverse outcomes such as psychiatric hospitalizations, and total annual out-of-pocket costs.

In addition to these claims analyses, in 2016, we will conduct in-depth interviews with about 40 individuals living with bipolar disorder and enrolled in employer-sponsored plans.  We want to understand patients’ and families’ experiences coping with complex insurance benefits and making decisions about their treatments given the costs they face.

This study will provide evidence for policymakers about how different types of plans work in the real world and how patients manage their care in the US employer-sponsored context.  The study has been funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  PCORI is a non-governmental institute that operates with federal funding.  It was established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

PCORI studies aim to be highly responsive to the concerns of real patients.  To that end, we will repeatedly seek feedback during the study (about our plans and findings as they develop) from the community of individuals living with bipolar disorder.