Depression Diagnosis Rates Are Increasing Across Washington, Study Finds

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. -- Major depression diagnoses are increasing across the nation and in most major cities in Washington state, including Seattle and Spokane, according to a study of medical claims by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA)’s Health of America Report.

The diagnosis rate for Washington state rose by 21 percent from 2014 through 2016. The state has a diagnosis rate of 4.9 percent compared to a national average of 4.4 percent for BCBS members.

The study found that women are diagnosed with major depression at double the rate of men (6 percent and 3 percent, respectively). People who are diagnosed with major depression are nearly 30 percent less healthy and have one or more serious chronic health conditions. They utilize health care services more than those without a depression diagnosis, resulting in two times the health care spending--$10,673 compared to $4,283.

The report, Major Depression: The Impact on Overall Health, is based on 2013 – 2016 medical claims data from the BCBS Health Index, a first-of-its-kind measurement of health for nearly every county in America. It encompasses more than 200 conditions that impact health and identifies those health conditions with the greatest impact on the commercially insured population. The BCBS Health Index is powered by de-identified medical claims data from more than 41 million commercially insured members of BCBS companies. The interactive website allows people to measure the overall health and identify the top 10 conditions that negatively impact health at the state and county levels.

“Depression is become increasingly common in Washington state and in the U.S.,” said Dr. Mia Wise, a medical director for Premera Blue Cross. “There are many factors for this, but the result is that patients who suffer from major depression have increased rates of complications from their chronic conditions [like cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure], and use health care services more than those who are not diagnosed with depression.”

Among the findings, in Washington state:

  • Millennials (ages 18-34) in the Seattle area have a higher diagnosis rate (5.1%) compared to the national average (4.4%).
  • Millennials (ages 18-34) in the Spokane have a higher diagnosis rate (5.4%) compared to the national average (4.4%).
  • Women in Olympia have a higher diagnosis rate (7.5%) compared to the national average (6%).
  • Women in Spokane have a higher diagnosis rate (7.3%) compared to the national average (6%).
  • The diagnosis rates for the state’s major metropolitan areas are above the national average by as much as 1 percent.

This is the twentieth study of the Blue Cross Blue Shield: The Health of America Report® series, a collaboration between BCBSA and Blue Health Intelligence, which uses a market-leading claims database to uncover key trends and insights into health care affordability and access to care.

For more information, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.

About Premera

Premera Blue Cross, a not-for-profit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association based in Mountlake Terrace, Wash, is a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, providing comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to approximately 2 million people, from individuals to Fortune 100 companies

About BHI
Blue Health Intelligence (BHI) is the nation’s premier resource for data-driven insights about healthcare trends and best practices, promoting healthier lives and more affordable access to safe and effective care. BHI leverages a team of analytics experts and advanced technology, coupled with access to the greatest number of healthcare claims—172 million lives—gathered over 10 years in a safe, HIPAA-compliant, secure database. The resulting conformed, reliable data set has the broadest, deepest pool of integrated medical and pharmacy claims, reflecting medical utilization in every ZIP code. Blue Health Intelligence (BHI) is an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. BHI is a trade name of Health Intelligence Company, LLC. www.bluehealthintelligence.com.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.