What’s the value of mental health treatment in the market place? Duke University conducted a study with Stony Brook University that puts some fresh perspective on the issue.
In a survey of 710 adults, researchers found that people are willing to pay more out-of-pocket to avoid physical illness than to prevent mental illness. The results were featured in the April issue of the journal Psychiatric Services.
“All else equal, the general public doesn’t think it is as valuable to treat mental illness as other types of illness,” said Peter Ubel, senior author of the study and a professor of marketing at Duke. “There is a fundamental disconnect between how bad they think it would be to experience depression and their willingness to spend money to rid themselves of the illness.”
The subjects were presented with five health conditions–three physical problems and two mental illnesses. The physical illnesses were diabetes, amputation of the leg below the knee, and partial blindness. The mental illnesses were depression and schizophrenia. They rated each as to how much of a burden they would be, and how much they’d pay to prevent them.
Interestingly, although schizophrenia scored highest on the burdensome scale, it did not score highest on the willingness-to-pay scale. Depression actually scored lowest on the payment scale.
People were on average willing to pay 40% less for mental illness prevention overall, at least within the categories presented.
The conclusion: “Participants understood that mental illness clearly has a very negative impact on quality of life,” said Dylan Smith, the study’s lead author and associate professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University. “Yet [they] were significantly not as willing to pay for effective treatments for these illnesses.”
* * *
Having trouble negotiating the choppy waters of filing Medicare claims? The National Association of Social Workers addressed the issue in its May Leadership Ladders newsletter with Documenting for Medicare: Tips for Clinical Social Workers.
The piece discusses diagnostic assessments, treatment plans, psychotherapy notes and what to do about errors.
- John Nelander, Contributing Editor