Anthem expands coverage to include telehealth treatment for alcoholism

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Anthem has expanded its coverage to include alcohol use disorder treatment through an evidence-based telemedicine program offered by specialty care provider Ria Health.

San Francisco-based Ria Health uses mobile technology, one-on-one interactions with addiction specialists and daily support to help members accomplish their goals and improve their overall well-being.

“By engaging with physicians and coaches at home, measuring consumption with simple tools, and reducing cravings with FDA approved medications, the average member experiences improved well-being and significant reduction in the use of alcohol,” Ria said.

Ria’s evidence-based telemedicine program is available across 12 states, the specialty care provider said. In the next 12 months, Ria Health expansion goals include an additional 13 states expanding their service to more than 25 states.

Anthem’s expansion to include Ria’s specialty care follows research published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in October, which found that patients engaged in the Ria Health program, on average, decreased their alcohol consumption by 66 percent after 6 months in the program. The study also found that non-drinking days of members increased from 1.8 days per week to 4.2 days per week.

Another study, published this year in the Neurobiology of Stress, found that rates of alcohol use disorder have increased in women by 84 percent over the past ten years, compared with a 35 percent increase in men. The study showed that negative emotions and stress are the main causes behind alcohol use disorder for women. Because 60 percent of Ria Health members are women, the company says it will focus its outreach efforts on this community, with telehealth appealing to them, as a way to find treatment in the privacy of their home and allowing them to meet family and work obligations at the same time.

“Women who are experiencing heavy drinking combined with excessive amounts of stress are choosing telehealth solutions to help address their mental well-being and alcohol misuse,” says Tom Nix, CEO of Ria Health. “Many people are unaware that medication combined with counseling and support is a clinically effective way to help people who want to address alcohol misuse by cutting back or stopping completely. This is what Ria continues to provide with staggeringly successful results.”

Ria Health is the first program to provide evidence-based care delivered through telehealth that focuses specifically on alcohol misuse. “We are aligned with Anthem to combat the stigma women feel when contemplating alcohol treatment options,” Nix explains. “By improving accessibility to treatment and delivering care from the privacy and comfort of home, more people can take action toward changing their relationship with alcohol.”

The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse study can be found here.

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