UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Delaware
Primary Care Depression Screening
Depression has an estimated prevalence of 5.4 to 8.9 percent in the U.S. general population1 and affects 5 to 13 percent of patients in primary care settings2. Primary care providers can play an essential role in the detection and treatment of depression by using the program’s Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9, and if positive, determining the severity and most suitable treatment plan for their patients.
What is the PHQ-9?
The PHQ-9 is a self-administered, nine-question screening tool that measures depression severity based on scoring thresholds. Check out the Resources area below for printable versions of the PHQ-9 in English and other languages, with scoring instructions and other information to help primary care providers recognize and manage their patients’ depression.
Helping a Patient who Screens Positive for Depression
PCPs can develop a comprehensive treatment plan and determine if treatment in the primary care setting is appropriate, or if a referral to a behavioral health specialist is needed. The care for a patient diagnosed with depression may involve collaboration between primary and behavioral health providers and may consist of referring the patient for psychotherapy, prescribing antidepressants, or a combination of both.
UnitedHealthcare reimburses care providers for administering the PHQ-9 to your patients by submitting a claim for CPT Code 96127 (Brief emotional/behavioral assessment). Please note the PHQ-9 screening must include scoring and documentation to receive reimbursement.
Forms – Downloadable PDFs
1. Narrow WE, Rae DS, Robins LN, et al. Revised prevalence estimates of mental disorders in the United States: using a clinical significance criterion to reconcile 2 surveys’ estimates. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002; 59(2):115-123.
2. Coyne JC, Fechner-Bates S, Schwenk TL. Prevalence, nature, and comorbidity of depressive disorders in primary care. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1994;16(4):267-276.