Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mental Health Care or Carelessness?

Denial around the seriousness of addressing mental health problems impacts all facets of America.  Investing in the front end of the health care network could save valuable tax dollars by both preventative and proactive measures.  The mind is very tied to our body.  When one fails the other usually is not too far behind. 

Today the United States spends 5.6 percent of the national healthcare spending, or $113 billion, on mental health treatment.  Most of this goes toward prescription drugs and outpatient treatment. Our country had 156,300 mental health counselors in 2010, and access to mental healthcare is pathetic compared to other types of medical services.

Healthcare spending is forecast to account for nearly 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), or one-fifth of the U.S. economy, by 2021.  It’s been estimated that wasteful spending may account for between one-third and one-half of all U.S. healthcare spending.  The largest area of waste is ‘defensive medicine’, including redundant, inappropriate or unnecessary tests and procedures. Other factors that contribute to this excessive spending include non-adherence to medical advice and prescriptions, alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity.   We must address the psychological factors of we wish to lessen health care costs.

Presently our economy totals 15 trillion dollars.  U.S. total healthcare expenditure is $2.7 trillion or 18 percent of GDP. Multiple chronic illness cases that are just one percent of healthcare expenditure consume 21 percent of this total amount.  The last tier of 50 percent of patients accounted for 2.8 percent of spending last year.  Contrary to popular opinion only 10 percent of healthcare dollars are spent in the last year of life. While there is increased spending in the last few months approaching death, it is not the massive percentage of medical care dollars that is widely believed.

It is difficult to find any peace of mind with our mental healthcare system. For examplehow depression, anxiety and other ailments directly affect our bottom-line can only be speculated.  Also, the degree to which such mind states related to obesity and other major diseases today is difficult to track.  Loss of worker productivity and other indirect costs for mental treatment, therapy and other associated facets of mental illness are difficult to fully measure. Mental healthcare is expensive, with 45 percent of the untreated citing cost as a barrier. A quarter of the 15.7 million Americans who received mental healthcare listed themselves as the main payer for the services.

For last 20 years I have learned to better address my anxiety.  I have been fortunate to be able to cope with a more and more demanding world. I have been reluctant to share my plight with my HMO and spent out-of-pocket tens of thousands of dollars of my own money to manage my own mental health.  This exploration has been my most valuable financial investment since I have become more mindful as to how to keep appearances up and costs down. However, stress and increasing global tensions continue to augment as our population and social conditions evolve. It is wise to question how we going to fix our health care system so as to prosper in years to come.

The sooner we Americans face this opportunity the better.  All Americans are mutually tied in what happens in healthcare.  Our very well-being and future prospects forces us to courageously agree to transform this hidden crisis—into a new frontier of opportunities.  If only we can collectively care together this country will greatly benefit, mind, body and spirit.
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