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What is behavioral health?

Posted: October 13, 2021

Last updated date: December 01, 2022

Behavioral health and mental health are basically the same thing. They’re both terms that describe a number of problems that can affect people’s mental wellbeing.

When we talk about behavioral health, it typically includes things like:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood disorders
  • Psychological issues

Substance use disorders, eating disorders and psychotic disorders are other examples of behavioral health issues.

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Behavioral health issues are very common

Millions of people in the U.S. are affected by mental health issues each year.1 In fact, 1 in 5 older adults over age 55 has some type of mental health concern.2 For dual-eligible individuals (people who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare) the problem is even bigger. For example, did you know that:

  1. 64% of dual eligibles have a mental health diagnosis3
  2. Nearly half of the under-65 dual-eligible population have severe mental disorders4

Dual eligibles also have higher rates of chronic conditions than Medicare-only beneficiaries.5 That includes diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and high blood pressure.

What’s more, dual eligibles have to navigate both the Medicaid and Medicare health care programs. This can make it harder for them to find their way and get care and support services they may need. That’s where a dual-eligible health plan can help.

Behavioral health is as important as physical health

How can a dual health plan help with behavioral health issues?

Behavioral health is as important as physical health. That’s why behavioral health services (also called mental health services) is one of the many extra benefits that are included with most dual-eligible health plans from UnitedHealthcare.*

Dual health plans (also called Dual Special Needs Plans or D-SNPs) are a type of Medicare plan. They’re for people who have both Medicaid and Medicare. Dual health plans can help simplify care and help make life easier for dual-eligible members.

Many people who are dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare have serious, ongoing health conditions. They may need to see a number of different doctors and specialists. That could also include therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists or other behavioral health doctors to help with mental health challenges.

A dual-eligible health plan can make it easier to manage a wide variety of care providers. Dual health plans can help you find a psychiatrist or other mental health provider near you. If necessary, dual plans can help coordinate mental health and substance use disorder treatment services with physical health care services. It takes a lot of time and effort juggling multiple appointments, plus all the paperwork from Medicaid and Medicare. A dual health plan can help keep everything straight.

Telehealth mental health visits offer added convenience

It’s not always easy or convenient to visit a doctor in person. That’s when telehealth mental health counseling can be a good answer. Telehealth lets you visit with a doctor or mental health provider over the internet.6 You can talk privately about a mental health issue or health concern any time, 24/7, with or without an appointment. Telehealth is just one more extra benefit you could get with a dual-eligible health plan from UnitedHealthcare.

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1 National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health By the Numbers. Last updated March, 2021. Accessed July 13, 2023.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. The State of Mental Health and Aging in America Issue Brief 1: What Do the Data Tell Us? Atlanta, GA: National Association of Chronic Disease Directors; 2008. Accessed

3,5 A Profile of Medicare-Medicaid Dual Beneficiaries. ATI Advisory Report, June 2022. Accessed July 24, 2023.
4 Justice in Aging, Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Dual Eligibles: An Opportunity for Advocates. Denny Chan May 24, 2016. Accessed July 13, 2023.
Not all medical conditions can be treated through telehealth. The telehealth doctor will identify if you need to see an in-person doctor for treatment.
*Benefits, features and/or devices vary by plan/area. Limitations and exclusions apply.

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Still have questions

We’re here to help

Contact us at:
1-844-812-5967 / TTY: 711
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, 7 days a week.