Massachusetts insurer has assembled a menu of digital offerings
Robert Calandra

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has started covering  a digital cognitive behavioral therapy tool for members struggling with depression, insomnia, stress, and anxiety.

BCBSMA employer clients with 500 or more members are now able to sign on to Minneapolis-based Learn to Live’s interactive programs that help with emotional health issues. The programs will provide access and affordable concepts and tools to clients.

“We believe an individual’s emotional health is as important as their physical health, and we are committed to helping members get the support they need,” said Ken Duckworth, MD, BCBSMA's behavioral health medical director. 

Ken Duckworth, MD

BCBSMA calls its menu of digital health offerings Emerging Solutions, and it includes  diabetes management (Livongo and Omada); fertility, pregnancy and parenting (Ovia Health); chronic back and knee pain (Hinge Health); and cancer (Robin Care).

"Our customers want to reduce the stigma of stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace and provide their employees with confidential and convenient solutions that fit more seamlessly into their lives," Cathy Hartman, senior vice president of customer solutions at BCBSMA said in a press release about the Learn to Live offering.

Behavioral health disorders are the most expensive illness per US data on health spending, higher than heart disease and cancer, said Dale Cook, CEO and co-founder of Learn to Live. The large untreated population of people suffering from these issues face barriers to treatment, including stigma, lack of access to behavioral health professionals, financial constraints and lack of geographic access.

In a 2018 review published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, researchers from the University of Bristol and University College Dublin identified 31 apps that purported to be CBT for depression. It found that CBT apps for depression “needed to improve with respect to incorporating evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy elements.”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies has a partnership with PsyberGuide, an online site that reviews and rates CBT apps based on credibility, transparency, and user experience.