Highmark Health Expands Access to Freespira’s Digital Therapeutic Treatment for Panic Attacks, Panic Disorder and PTSD


One of nation’s largest health plans makes Freespira available to select Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia

Freespira, Inc., maker of the first FDA-cleared digital therapeutic to significantly reduce or eliminate symptoms of panic attacks, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in only 28 days, today announced that Highmark Inc. is expanding access to Freespira to its membership throughout PennsylvaniaDelaware and West Virginia. The expansion of the partnership, will include the addition of remote coaching on the use of the Freespira device for members not connected to a trained behavioral health professional.

Highmark is the fourth-largest Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization and serves 5.6 million health plan members in PennsylvaniaDelaware, and West Virginia. Highmark originally piloted Freespira in 2016 as part of its VITAL Innovation program to help members suffering from panic disorder obtain relief with a new treatment option that not only reduced or eliminated panic attacks but also led to decreased utilization of medical services and decreased medical costs.

“We are pleased with the clinical and financial outcomes achieved for our health plan members through the use of Freespira,” said Demetrios C. Marousis, MA, MBA, LPC, Director of Behavioral Health at Highmark. “This breakthrough, drug-free treatment has reduced the impact of symptoms associated with panic attacks, resulting in reduced use of medications and other healthcare costs for symptom management. Freespira adds value to our members’ plans and helps us to create a remarkable health care experience, freeing people to be their best.”

The study,[1] published in April of 2020, confirmed that using Freespira to treat panic disorder and panic attacks is both clinically and financially beneficial. More specifically, the study, conducted at the Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, found that 86% of patients were symptom-free immediately post-treatment and 73% were still symptom-free 12 months post treatment. The study also led to significant cost savings for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. The reduced costs included a 65% reduction in emergency department costs; a 68% reduction in pharmacy costs; and a 35% reduction in total medical costs.

“Current treatments for panic attacks and PTSD often cause patients to cycle through multiple physicians, interventions, and pharmacotherapies that often don’t alleviate their physiological symptoms.” said Dean Sawyer, Chief Executive Officer of Freespira. “Highmark recognizes that its health plan members deserve medication-free, at-home options to help them lead symptom-free lives. We’re thrilled to expand our relationship with Highmark so that we can continue to improve the lives of millions of people who suffer from panic attacks and PTSD while also helping to reduce the overall cost of healthcare.”

Freespira is unique in its approach to addressing the underlying causes of panic disorder and PTSD symptoms. Multiple studies have shown that hypersensitivity to carbon dioxide and related breathing irregularities are key physiological causes of panic disorder and PTSD symptoms. Freespira helps by providing users with real-time physiological feedback-based training to normalize their respiration rate and exhaled carbon dioxide levels to reduce or eliminate panic disorder and PTSD symptoms.