While teenage medical claims fell during COVID lockdowns, mental health claims jumped by more than 20%

Credit: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
Credit: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

[T]he New York nonprofit [Fair Health’s] seventh [report] in a series on the pandemic is the result of analysis of more than 32 billion private healthcare claims filed on behalf of people aged 0 to 22 from January to November 2020 compared with those filed during the same period in 2019.

The study found that mental health claims for patients aged 13 to 18 skyrocketed 97.0% in March and 103.5% in April 2020. In contrast, medical claims fell 53.3% in March and 53.4% in April. The pattern of increased mental health claims and lower medical claims held though November 2020, but to a lesser degree. Mental health claims remained at least 19% higher in 2020 than in 2019.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health,” the authors of the report wrote. “Infection-related fears, bereavement, economic instability and social isolation have triggered and exacerbated mental health issues.”

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And while adults have also reported that COVID-19–related fears and stress have impaired their mental health, young people have been particularly susceptible because of school closures and distance learning, the inability to interact closely with friends, stress, and loneliness.

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