Brightside Health Expands into Medicare and Medicaid, Doubles Its Potential Patients

Brightside Health, a digital mental health company, has extended its scope to include Medicare and Medicaid enrollees. In so doing, it increases its potential reach to about 100 million lives covered.

The San Francisco-based startup has secured deals with several leading health plans to extend mental health and digital support services to this new population. On Oct. 5, Brightside Health announced contracts that give it access to members of the following health plans:

— Centene Corp. (NYSE: CNC)


— UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans via a deal with Optum

— Florida Blue via a deal with Lucet

— Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas


— Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana

A representative of Brightside Health told Behavioral Health Business that the company has additional deals and expanded contracts with existing payer partners in the works.

These deals effectively double the lives covered by Brightside Health. They also represent another digital mental health provider making Medicare and Medicaid a meaningful part of their business. The segment has traditionally focused on cash-pay, commercial health plans or other enterprise partnerships.

“The ongoing mental health crisis places an increasing and disproportionate burden on Medicaid and Medicare recipients, making it extremely hard for participants in these programs to access timely and effective mental health care,” Brad Kittredge, co-founder and CEO of Brightside Health, said in a news release. “With this expansion, we’re addressing a major gap in our healthcare system and ensuring that millions of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive the timely and high-quality mental health care they need.”

Medicare beneficiaries often experience gaps in mental health care due to what Medicare will cover and care they receive. One study found that American seniors have financial difficulties accessing behavioral health services at a rate about twice as high as their peers in other developed countries. Medicare beneficiaries have also shown a greater likelihood of positive opioid use disorder treatment outcomes when using telehealth. 

Medicaid is the single largest payer of behavioral health services in the U.S. The federal-state safety net health plan covers about 26% of all mental health spending in the U.S., according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The company recently added a new chief operations offer to its leadership team. Brightside Health announced a $50 million Series B funding round in March 2022.

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