Dr. Bronner’s to Provide Psychedelic-Therapy as Employee Healthcare Benefit

First Ever Partnership between Health Plan Administrator and Leading U.S. Company to Offer Employee Coverage for Ketamine-Assisted Therapy to Promote Mental Health

Dr. Bronner’s has expanded its mental healthcare benefits to include ketamine-assisted therapy, as a first step in providing access to psychedelic-assisted therapy to employees to promote mental health. This innovative benefit plan is administered by Enthea, a nonprofit healthcare organization responsible for medical policy development, provider network management, and benefit plan administration. Enthea establishes high quality of care standards for the treatments offered, including credentialing and managing a network of specialty providers.

Dr. Bronner’s and Enthea have partnered over a shared belief that psychedelic-assisted therapies are highly effective for the treatment of many kinds of mental health problems and should be accepted into standard mental healthcare as soon as possible. The two companies believe there is significant potential for these novel treatments to heal and save lives. Under the banner of “Heal Soul,” Dr. Bronner’s has supported numerous public education efforts, advocacy organizations, and political campaigns around the country working to advance the acceptance and availability of psychedelic-assisted therapy and medicines to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other conditions.

“The health and wellbeing of our employees is the primary driver in how we think about benefits and compensation. Offering coverage for ketamine-assisted therapy is in the interest of providing tools to our workforce to have the best quality of life and best options for mental health care,” explains Michael Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s. “Our family and company are no strangers to depression and anxiety. We are deeply concerned about the mental health crisis society is facing, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Considering all our advocacy on this issue, this employee benefit is the next logical step,” Bronner continued.

Coverage for Dr. Bronner’s employees began on January 1, 2022. The initial health benefit offers ketamine medicine sessions integrated with specialized counseling services to improve mental health conditions. Ketamine is currently the only legal prescription drug with well-known psychedelic effects and ample efficacy data for mental health treatment. Enthea also plans to administer coverage for MDMA-assisted therapy and psilocybin-assisted therapy, once those treatments receive FDA approval.

“We are particularly proud of this unique partnership and we applaud Dr. Bronner’s for showing the way for other companies,” says Lia Mix, CEO of Enthea. “Psychedelic-assisted therapy holds tremendous promise for addressing our society’s mental health crisis and improving workforce wellbeing. At Enthea, we aim to promote ‘Healing from Within.’ This complements Dr. Bronner’s All-One mission, which it demonstrates by treating employees like family in providing exceptional benefits like ketamine-assisted therapy. High-performing and forward-thinking companies know the importance of employee mental health. We also see the best talent attracted to companies with next-generation benefits like the one implemented by Dr. Bronner’s. We anticipate both human and financial return on these organizations’ investment in covering psychedelic healthcare,” Mix concluded.

Ketamine, widely used in modern medicine, is an anesthetic known to have dissociative effects when used in sub-anesthetic doses. Approved by the FDA in 1970, Ketamine has been widely and safely used in a range of clinical settings for more than half a century. More recently, a growing body of research has found that sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine may be effective to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Bolstered by a growing body of research that was initiated by the National Institute of Mental Health, ketamine clinics and clinicians have recently begun to proliferate across the United States, offering ketamine sessions for a range of psychiatric disorders either using ketamine-only treatments or ketamine in conjunction with psychotherapy (i.e., ketamine-assisted therapy).

“The effectiveness of ketamine-assisted therapy has been demonstrated through multiple research studies and more than twenty years of accumulated clinical experience,” says Dan Rome, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Enthea. “Numerous studies show that, among individuals with chronic health conditions, those who also suffer from mental health disorders are two to three times more costly to the healthcare system than those without. Our society is in dire need of more effective treatments for mental health conditions, to reduce human suffering as well as the economic toll on our overburdened health care system,” Rome remarked.

Mental health conditions and substance use disorders impact 970 million people worldwide1 and 72 million people in the U.S.2, where mental illness has reached epidemic levels. Ketamine-assisted therapy offers a promising new option for treatment, especially for those suffering from depression. Unfortunately, more than a third of patients receiving standard pharmacological treatments for depression report no improvement for these therapies3. Given these sobering statistics, effective, evidence-based treatments such as ketamine-assisted therapy and other psychedelic-assisted therapies, namely MDMA and psilocybin, offer tremendous potential in addressing the mental health crisis.

Dr. Bronner’s employee benefits are core to how the company models its All-One mission. The company caps the total compensation of the highest-paid executives at five times that of the lowest-paid fully vested position. There is no difference between the benefits offered to company leadership and those offered to every single benefit-eligible employee. All employees receive 10% of their salary paid annually into a retirement/profit-sharing plan, up to 10% of their salary as a bonus, and a no-deductible PPO health insurance plan for their families—paying the complete health premium and all deductibles so there’s no out-of-pocket cost for employees. Providing access to ketamine-assisted therapy through this new partnership with Enthea is yet another offering intended to increase quality of life for Dr. Bronner’s employees.

“We strive to effect positive change in all our spheres of influence. The wellbeing of our employees is paramount to our company culture. We also know from experience that offering strong benefits helps with employee retention and recruitment. We hope to inspire and be a model for other companies and organizations to also partner with Enthea and offer this potentially lifesaving benefit to their staff,” says David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s and Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) board member. “As other psychedelic-assisted therapies become available, we look forward to adding benefits for those as well,” David Bronner concluded.

Dr. Bronner’s Ketamine Assisted Therapy Employee Benefit Program

What is Dr. Bronner’s Ketamine Assisted Therapy benefit program?

Dr. Bronner’s Ketamine Assisted Therapy benefit program is a health benefit available to Dr. Bronner’s employees and their families. The health benefit offers ketamine medicine sessions integrated with specialized counseling services to improve mental health conditions. The program is administered by Enthea on behalf of Dr. Bronner’s.

Why is Dr. Bronner’s providing this benefit? 

The health and well-being of our employees is the primary driver in how we think about benefits and compensation. Offering coverage for Ketamine Assisted Therapy is in the interest of providing tools to our workforce to have the best quality of life and best options for mental health care. Our family and company are no strangers to depression and anxiety. We are deeply concerned about the mental health crisis society is facing, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Bronner’s interest in the psychedelic space is inspired by our founder Emanuel Bronner’s “All-One!” vision to heal the planet. Emanuel firmly believed that true healing could only be achieved by “sharing the profits with the workers and the earth from which you made it.” Under the banner of “Heal Soul”, Dr. Bronner’s has supported numerous public education efforts, advocacy organizations, and political campaigns around the country working to advance the acceptance and availability of psychedelic-assisted therapy and medicines to treat depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Our CEO David Bronner has been involved in the movement to advance the legalization of psychedelic medicines for over two decades. He serves on the board of MAPS, his passion for this cause has been a key motivator in Dr. Bronner’s prioritizing drug policy reform as a core cause in our company activism and philanthropy. Considering all our advocacy on this issue, this employee benefit is the next logical step.

More than 800 million people worldwide suffer from a mental health issue, which disproportionately impacts communities of color and low economic status. On top of this, conventional pharmaceutical approaches to mental health treatments appear inadequate, with little innovation since the development of SSRIs in the 1980s. While use of pharmaceutical psychotropic drugs is at an all time high, so too are levels of depression, suicide, and PTSD. If these medications were especially effective, we should be seeing a decline in these conditions, but this is not the case.

Given this, we see a clear need for a paradigm shift in the treatment of mental health. Psychedelics appear to be that paradigm shift; offering a way to treat not just a person’s symptoms, but the underlying causes, allowing them a chance at durable, long-lasting improvement. Even so, Ketamine Assisted Therapy is primarily offered as a cash pay treatment, requiring large upfront costs for an individual to seek personal healing. At Dr. Bronner’s, we believe in increasing access to these treatments, which is why we have selected Enthea to provide coverage for Ketamine Assisted Therapy as part of Dr. Bronner’s overall healthcare benefits. 

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a synthetic pharmaceutical compound, classified as a dissociative anesthetic. It is one of the most widely used drugs in modern medicine, and is on the World Health organization’s List of Essential Medicines. It was developed in 1963, approved by the Food and Drug Administration for certain surgical procedures in 1970, and adopted by many hospitals and medical offices because of its rapid onset, proven safety, and short duration of action. 

More recently, a growing body of research has found that sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine may be effective to treat a variety of mental health conditions. During the 1990s, investigators at the National Institute of Mental Health started to explore the antidepressant potential of ketamine while looking for alternatives to SSRIs and SNRIs. In conjunction with this growing body of research, ketamine clinics and clinicians have proliferated across the United States, offering ketamine sessions for a range of psychiatric disorders either using ketamine-only treatments or ketamine in conjunction with psychotherapy (i.e., KAT).

What is Ketamine Assisted Therapy?

Ketamine Assisted Therapy is a treatment that integrates subanesthetic ketamine experiences with specialized counseling services to improve mental health conditions. In low doses, ketamine can serve as an adjunct to psychotherapy, as it provides an opportunity for the temporary softening of psychological defenses, which may result in deeper self-reflection and psychotherapeutic processing. Together, these components may help patients break long-standing, deeply ingrained thinking patterns associated with a variety of mental health conditions and, in turn, develop new ways of thinking and being. In this way, Ketamine Assisted Therapy involves the use of ketamine to enhance and deepen the therapeutic process, and the use of psychotherapy to amplify and prolong the curative effects of ketamine.

Why did Dr. Bronner’s partner with Enthea?

Dr. Bronner’s has partnered with Enthea with a shared understanding that Psychedelic Assisted Therapies are highly effective for the treatment of many kinds of mental health problems and should be accepted into standard mental healthcare as soon as possible. The two companies believe there is significant potential for these novel treatments to heal and save lives.

Who is Enthea?

Enthea is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide safe, affordable access to psychedelic assisted therapies for all who can benefit. Enthea’s mission and non-profit organizational structure are deeply aligned with Dr. Bronner’s goal of supporting the development of an ethical psychedelics industry. 

Why is Ketamine Assisted Therapy important to Dr. Bronner’s?

Dr. Bronner’s has partnered with Enthea with a shared understanding that Psychedelic Assisted Therapies are highly effective for the treatment of many kinds of mental health problems and should be accepted into standard mental healthcare as soon as possible. The two companies believe there is significant potential for these novel treatments to heal and save lives.

“The effectiveness of Ketamine Assisted Therapy has been demonstrated through multiple research studies and more than twenty years of accumulated clinical experience,” says Dr. Dan Rome, Chief Medical Officer at Enthea. “Numerous studies show that, among individuals with chronic health conditions, those who also suffer from mental health disorders are two to three times more costly to the healthcare system than those without. Our society is in dire need of more effective treatments for mental health conditions, to reduce human suffering as well as the economic toll on our overburdened health care system,” Rome remarked.

How much assistance is provided to Dr. Bronner’s employees?

Dr. Bronner’s employees and their dependents will receive assistance from Enthea, either electronically or by phone to assist in finding Ketamine Assisted Therapy providers. Once you select a provider and are determined to be a good fit for Ketamine Assisted Therapy which is 100% covered for Dr. Bronner’s benefit eligible employees.

Who is eligible to receive this benefit?

All Dr. Bronner’s employees (30+ hours per week) who receive the company’s full benefit package and eligible dependents who are 18 years or older.  At this time those under 18 years old are not approved to receive treatments. 

How much does one therapy session cost?

Therapy session costs are dependent on location, provider, and type of service; however, a typical session can range from $150-$400 per session. Dr. Bronner’s benefit covers therapy sessions at 100% for eligible employees and dependents. 

How many therapy sessions are typically prescribed to treat depression?

Ketamine Assisted Therapy consists of Ketamine Medication Sessions and Integration Sessions. The number of sessions are individualized to the patient’s behavioral health status and provider assessment, along with the patient’s input. Typically Ketamine Medication Sessions along with Integration Sessions can range from two to six sessions; however each person is different and can require more or fewer sessions.

How do you know Ketamine Assisted Therapy is safe?

Since 1970, ketamine’s record of clinical safety for anesthesia and analgesia in surgical procedures, in emergency room settings, and more recently in outpatient pain management clinics and psychiatric clinics has produced a large body of research and clinical experience that supports its safety.

It’s large safety margin allows its use in settings where anesthesiologists and monitoring are not available, such as the battlefield, veterinary medicine, dentistry, and pediatric anesthesia (Early, 2014). Indeed, various clinicians representing over 1500 subanesthetic ketamine sessions involving 355 patients involved in a Ketamine Assisted Therapy model have found use in outpatient (Dore et al., 2019; Early, 2014) settings to have minimal adverse effects.

Why ketamine and not another psychedelic? 

Currently, ketamine is the only psychedelic-like compound available for Psychedelic Assisted Therapy. As other forms of Psychedelic Assisted Therapy become FDA approved, they may also become available through this benefit.

What services to address mental health does Dr. Bronner’s offer for employees who aren’t interested in psychedelic assisted therapy? 

For employees that are not interested in ketamine-assisted therapy and require alternative services for mental health, behavioral health, or substance abuse services, video-based counseling, face-to-face therapy, health coaching, lifestyle management, and more are offered through the health insurance coverage offered to employees that work 30+ hours, and their eligible dependents.

Is ketamine addictive?

Medical evidence suggests that ketamine abuse (e.g., frequent, high-dose, non-medical use) may result in some physical issues as well as symptoms of psychological and physical dependence (Morgan & Curran, 2012). However, when ketamine is administered by a licensed provider, ketamine does not appear to be addictive. When administered by a licensed provider, special care is given to the dosage, frequency, and method used to administer the ketamine, to ensure patient safety and reduce any risks for abuse. Given this, ketamine should only be used under the direct supervision of a licensed prescriber.

If an employee has a negative experience with Ketamine Assisted Therapy, how can they seek support?

Decades of extensive research and clinical experience support that Ketamine Assisted Therapy is safe. However, in the event that an employee has a challenging response to ketamine, there are several support systems in place to help them navigate their experience.

 For starters, integrated specialized counseling services are an important part of Ketamine Assisted Therapy. Each Ketamine Medicine Session is typically followed by one or more Integration Session(s). These integration sessions allow patients to navigate any difficult experiences that may have occurred during the ketamine medicine sessions as well as integrate any insights from the experience into their daily life with the help of a licensed therapist.

What is Dr. Bronner’s doing to help make Psychedelic Assisted Therapy accessible to others outside of Dr. Bronner’s?

Under the banner of “Heal Soul”, Dr. Bronner’s has supported numerous public education efforts, advocacy organizations, and political campaigns around the country working to advance the acceptance and availability of psychedelic-assisted therapy and medicines to treat depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Our CEO David Bronner has been involved in the movement to advance the legalization of psychedelic medicines for over two decades. He serves on the board of MAPS, his passion for this cause has been a key motivator in Dr. Bronner’s prioritizing drug policy reform as a core cause in our company activism and philanthropy.

For more information on Dr. Bronner’s Ketamine Assisted Therapy employee benefit, see our related press release at Dr. Bronner’s media center.

References:

¹ Saloni Dattani, Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2021) – “Mental Health”. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: ‘https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health’.

² Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP20-07-01-001). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRPDFWHTML/2019NSDUHFFR1PDFW090120.pdf.

³ Fava M, Davidson KG. (1996) Definition and epidemiology of treatment-resistant depression. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1996;19(2):179-200. doi:10.1016/s0193-953x(05)70283-5.

 

Author Profile
Ryan Fletcher

Ryan Fletcher is Dr. Bronner’s Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations. He has worked full-time with the company since 2007. He lives in Washington, DC and is a proponent of cooperative living and a vegan lifestyle.

See all stories by Ryan Fletcher