At-home alcohol treatment covered by insurance for BlueShield of CA and Western Health Advantage members

Magellan Healthcare, a managed health company, will offer some California members access to Ria Health’s at-home alcohol use disorder treatment program.

Alcohol use disorder

Phoenix, Arizona-based Magellan Health, a managed healthcare system, announced last week that it will offer Blue Shield of California and Western Health Advantage members in-home access to Ria Health‘s alcohol use disorder (AUD) treatment services. Magellan Health works with health plans and other managed care organizations, as well as employers, labor unions, and with various military and governmental agencies and third-party administrators.

Ria Health, with headquarters in San Francisco, offers a variety of services ranging from video chat coaching to alcohol cessation medication access. The platform allows users to to keep track of alcohol consumption.The goal is to have users shift from high-risk to lower-risk behavior, not requiring them to abstain completely unless they choose to.

“Ria Health treatment protocols are determined by peer reviewed clinical evidence. The evidence shows that combining medication combined with psychosocial support can help patients achieve effective outcomes,” said Tom Nix, CEO of Ria Health, in an email provided by a representative. “When it comes to the support provided by community based programs or non-medical approaches our care team is neither believing nor disbelieving. That is what we mean by philosophy agnostic.”

A medical team — which includes a licensed nurse or physician — tailors a custom plan for each Ria member. That plan can include medication, coaching, and support groups, as well as a 15 minute weekly check-in. Additionally, Ria sends users a Bluetooth breathalyzer that connects to the smartphone app to track drink consumption.

“By bringing together Magellan’s high-touch clinical solutions and Ria Health’s AUD telehealth program, we can support our members to either reduce or stop drinking alcohol,” said Caroline Carney, president of behavioral health and chief medical officer at Magellan in a news release announcing the partnership. 

The partnership comes at a crucial time for people suffering from AUD. The pandemic marked an increase in alcohol consumption in the United States and related consequences on individual health, including both physical and mental health.

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“With the dramatic increase in harmful drinking, which the stress of the pandemic has fueled, people need effective, evidence-based treatment options more than ever,” said Tom Nix, CEO of Ria Health, in the news release. “Our program is clinically proven to help people reduce harmful drinking and the average patient shows a reduction in their blood alcohol level by 75 percent. We will be extending these services to Magellan Health’s California network and reaching even more patients [who] need help.”

Ria is not alone in hoping to deliver convenient AUD treatment at home and virtually. Other companies include Alavida Health, Lionrock Recovery, and Monument, to name a few.

“Even before the pandemic, we were seeing the increased need for mental health and addiction services. Now, we are beginning to learn the true impact of the pandemic through both survey and utilization data that show increases in problematic drinking and medical complications of drinking. There never has been a more important time to recognize and treat alcohol use disorder,” Carney said.

Photo: fizkes, Getty Images