The last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it clear that there is great need for universal access to mental health care, making it central to an organization’s health benefits strategy. With that in mind, the Health Transformation Alliance (HTA), a cooperative of America’s leading employers that have come together to provide support for individual employees as they navigate the complex U.S. healthcare system, has turned its attention towards mental health as a core component of health benefits.
All of HTA member companies’ full-time employees receive health care coverage, benefits, education, and programs designed to meet their specific needs. The HTA helps employer members accomplish this by providing de-identified aggregated claims data and tools that enable organizations to analyze the data in helpful ways—by employee population, for example.
HTA’s approach helps identify the best providers for mental health care across a diverse scope of demographics and needs. It makes equitable mental health care both more accessible to employees and more cost effective for employer members. Now, a new utilization-based model recently developed by HTA in partnership with Lyra Health is transforming the future of mental health care—one with the possibility of better, more accessible outcomes, as well as greater returns on employers’ investment in mental health.
We sat down with Lee Lewis, HTA’s Chief Strategy Officer and GM Medical Solutions. In his career, Lee has advised Fortune 10 employers, insurance companies and administrators, medical associations and the Departments of Justice and Labor. Lee shared his perspective on the emergence of new models and solutions across the health benefits sector, and why mental health has come to the forefront for the leading companies that make up HTA.
As the gap between what is needed in mental health care and what is offered in the market has widened, the importance of employer health care buying power has never been more apparent. The reason is simple: the industry delivers what the customer demands. Employers, especially large, self-funded employers, represent the most influential purchasing block to insist on better mental health care.
Recent polls suggest “burnout” and “mental health concerns” are the first and fourth most cited reasons for employee turnover causing the Great Resignation. Mental health investment is a data-driven business decision as straightforward as maintaining data security or borrowing at a lower cost of capital.
Mental health challenges, as with chronic health challenges, don’t strike people equally: those who live chronically harder lives due to lower income or underrepresented status have a higher mental health risk as well, so investments in this area can especially help those population segments and drive greater equity.
Mental health vendors are evaluated on their scale, their flexibility, and their value. HTA recognized that we needed to solve some very large problems for millions of families, and this required several things. First, we needed a national network of new therapists and psychiatrists who could be available both in-person and by telemedicine to supplement our carrier networks. This was essential to reducing wait times, reducing any reimbursement gaps, and increasing in-network utilization. In line with this, Lyra offers approximately 5,000 providers to our employers.
Secondly, we needed a partner who could customize the offering to meet our employers where they were: some needed an EAP as well as a medical network extension. Others needed international access. All of our employers needed a scheduling model that enabled people of color and LGBTQ+ employees to find therapists with whom they shared values and identity. We worked with Lyra to design a new model that was completely utilization-based, which accelerated our ability to deploy the program and pay through the claims. Lyra was a co-development partner every step of the way and bent over backwards to meet our needs, creating something special that has never before existed in the market. Finally, we needed competitive pricing and demonstrated savings—Lyra offers both.
Lyra Health offers scale, flexibility, and value that isn’t matched in the industry. For about a dozen of our employers, so far, the Lyra model has been compelling enough to purchase or begin contract negotiations. Partnering with Lyra Health for mental health care improves the benefit, supports mental health parity, retains employees, saves money, and enhances lives.
If you want help connecting with a coach or therapist, Lyra can assist you. You can get started today if Lyra is offered by your employer. Sign up now.