The Cost Effectiveness of Embedding a Behavioral Health Clinician into an Existing Primary Care Practice to Facilitate the Integration of Care: A Prospective, Case-Control Program Evaluation

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2019 Mar;26(1):59-67. doi: 10.1007/s10880-018-9564-9.


This project evaluated the cost effectiveness of integrating behavioral health services into a primary care practice using a prospective, case-control design. New Directions Behavioral Health collaborated with a large Kansas City primary care practice to integrate a licensed psychologist (i.e., behavioral health clinician) into the practice. Patient claims data were examined 21 months prior to and 14 months after the psychologist began providing full-time behavioral health services within the practice. Claims data from patients with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City insurance (BCBSKC) who had at least one encounter with the psychologist (N = 239) were compared to control patients (BCBSKC fully insured patients at large) to calculate cost savings. The results demonstrated that integrating behavioral health services into the practice was associated with $860.16 per member per year savings or 10.8% savings in costs for BCBSKC patients. Integrating behavioral health services into primary care may lead to reductions in health care costs.

Keywords: Behavioral health; Cost effectiveness; Integrated care; Primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cost Savings
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / economics
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / methods
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine / economics
  • Integrative Medicine / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team / economics*
  • Primary Health Care / economics
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychology / economics*