June 06, 2012 08:30 ET

DMEC Survey Says Workplace Stress and Related Behavioral Health Conditions Are of Growing Concern to Employers

Health Care Reform Law Introduces Uncertainty

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - Jun 6, 2012) - Behavioral health, including depression and stress, is an increasing area of concern to employers, according to the DMEC 2012 Behavioral Risk Survey of small, medium-sized and large companies released today by the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). The concerns and costs, including direct medical expenses, lost productivity, workers' compensation and disability payments, are made more challenging due to the uncertain future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

DMEC coined the term "Behavioral Risk Management" in 2006 to describe employer efforts to address and minimize the costs attached to illness, absence and disability caused by mental health conditions. The DMEC 2012 Behavioral Risk Survey was conducted in an economic climate in which these health conditions continue to be among the top non-communicable diseases and a growing cost center for employers:

  • The direct costs of mental health care represent around 6% of overall health care costs.

  • Nearly 30% of young adults (those aged 18 to 25) were estimated to have had a diagnosable disorder, which is more than any other age group. The estimates for adults between the ages of 26 and 49, and those 50 and over, were 22.1% and 14.3%, respectively.

  • Overall, 11.4 million U.S. adults -- about 5% of the adult population -- have a disorder that greatly impairs their ability to function in daily life.

  • Mental illness and substance use disorders, combined as a group, are the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and the third leading cause of long-term disability for employers in the United States.

  • Excessive workloads and long hours are a top source of employee stress.

According to the DMEC 2012 Behavioral Risk Survey, 47.7% of respondents believe behavioral risk is an important emerging area of concern. Forty percent (40%) indicated they include a behavioral component in their integrated or coordinated disability/absence management program.

The survey indicates adoption of behavioral health programs could be impacted by the uncertainty surrounding health care reform. Under PPACA, individual and small group insurance plans will most likely be required to offer parity in behavioral health benefits. With 78.3% of respondents noting that their behavioral health component is a "carve-in" and is attached to their health plan, they may be reluctant to add/develop programs such as behavioral health if they have to "carve it back out" due to the potential for increasing health insurance costs and the uncertainty associated with the legality of the PPACA.

"Behavioral health conditions are among the most widespread, damaging and yet preventable illnesses from which people suffer," said Marcia Carruthers, CEO of DMEC. "It is heartening that awareness of behavioral health and its costs to employees, employers and the entire health care system continues to grow. Employers need legal and regulatory certainty to enable them to effectively manage and reduce these costs."

To read the full DMEC 2012 Behavioral Risk Survey, please visit:

About DMEC
The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) is a non-profit organization that provides educational resources to employers in the areas of disability, absence, health, and productivity. The primary goal of DMEC is to assist employers in developing cost-saving programs, encouraging responsive market products, and returning employees to productive employment. Visit for more information about educational publications and events.

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