The lifetime costs of serious mental illness

The lifetime costs of serious mental illness


The the health and economic of serious mental illness (SMI) is often overlooked by the health policy and some provider communities. One key question is how how can we quantify the economic burden of SMI. Further, how can we reduce this burden. Much of my research has looked at how medications can improve health and reduce health care costs for patients with SMI (here, here, and here).

A recent publication in Health Affairs by Sebury et al. (2019), however, examines whether policies that could improve educational attainment among individuals with SMI could also reduce SMI’s economic burden. The authors use the Future Americans Model (FAM), a microsimulation
model using longitudinal data from PSID, HRS and other sources to project project health,
medical spending, social service use, and economic outcomes over time for individuals aged 25 years and older. The authors find the following:

We estimated that the per patient lifetime burden of SMI is $1.85 million. We also found that a policy intervention focused on improving the educational attainment of people with SMI reduces the average per person burden of SMI by $73,600 (4.0 percent)—a change driven primarily by higher lifetime earnings—or over $8.9 billion in reduced burden per cohort of SMI patients.



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