While benzodiazepine and hypnotic medications are generally not indicated as first-line treatments for insomnia and anxiety, an alarming number of patients are being treated with these medications as the first and only treatment.

Big Health recently engaged Milliman to conduct a study on treatment patterns for traditional Medicare beneficiaries with insomnia disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in the United States to determine how closely they aligned with guideline-recommended care. 

Get a peek inside

Key report findings

  • FDA labeling guidance for benzodiazepines and hypnotic medications recommends against prescribing for more than 30 days, but 76% of those under 65 taking medications for GAD and between 76%-81% of those under 65 taking medications for insomnia received prescriptions on a long-term basis (over 30 days).*
  • While the usage of benzodiazepine and other hypnotic medications declined between 2019 and 2020, researchers found no corresponding rise in the use of psychotherapy. There was, however, a corresponding rise in the use of off-label medications such as trazodone and gabapentin.
  • When comparing treatment rates among beneficiaries under 65 with GAD across race/ethnicity, in 2020 30% of non-Hispanic black and 23% of other races had a diagnosis but did not receive treatment compared to only 17% of non-Hispanic white beneficiaries.

Implications for health plans

Findings from the study highlight three key areas of concern for health plans:

  • Performance on HEDIS measures
  • Performance on value-based contracts
  • Compliance with health equity mandates

Multiple clinical guidelines recommended cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as first-line treatment for insomnia and anxiety, traditionally delivered through in-person therapy.3 However, today’s landscape of high demand for services and short supply of therapists makes it impossible to scale traditional care. Big Health harnesses the power of CBT in a unique digital experience that enables everyone who needs care to access it. Sleepio for insomnia disorder and Daylight for GAD are non-drug, first-line treatments that have been rigorously tested and proven to be safe and effective. They can be easily implemented, delivered on a virtually limitless scale, and used safely in conjunction with other treatments.

Curious if this is the right solution for your organization? Contact us below. 

Sleepio and Daylight are available as an adjunct to usual medical care for insomnia disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, respectively, for adults ages 18 and older, without FDA review under their COVID-19 policy.

  1. Bazell et al. (2022). Treatment Patterns for Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Insomnia in Medicare Fee-for-Service. White paper. 
  2.  Espie et al. (2012). Sleep; Carl et al. (2020). Depression and anxiety
  3. ACP (2023): https://www.acponline.org/clinical-information/clinical-guidelines-recommendations

*Medicare beneficiaries under 65 are eligible for Medicare due to their disability or end stage renal disease status.

Download the report