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Depression in primary care


Approximately 7.1 percent of adults who are 18 or older had at least one Major Depressive Episode in 2017, and 4.5 percent of adults had a Major Depressive Episode with Severe Impairment. Despite this, a national study found that less than 5 percent of adults were screened for depression in primary care settings. Primary care physicians serve as the entry point to the health care system for many patients, and they play a critical role in recognizing and treating symptoms of depression. The Aetna Depression in Primary Care Program is designed to support the screening for and treatment of depression at the primary care level.


Program benefits include:


  • A tool to screen for depression as well as monitor response to treatment
  • Reimbursement for depression screening and follow-up monitoring
  • Patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9) — specifically developed for use in primary care
    • It’s self-administered, quick and easy.
    • It’s specific for depression.
    • It’s available in English and Spanish.
    • For reimbursement, submit the claim with the following billing combination: CPT code 96127 (brief emotional/behavioral assessment) or G0444 (annual screening for depression), in conjunction with diagnosis code Z13.31 (screening for depression).

To get started, you simply need to:


  • Be a participating provider
  • Use the PHQ-9 tool to screen/monitor your patients
  • Submit your claims using the code combination