What you need to know about the cost and accessibility of mental health care in America
Posted on May 10 2021
As challenges like Covid-19 and the reckoning on racism continue to take a toll on Americans’ mental health, it brings new urgency to the long-standing issues like the cost of accessibility of care. Spending on mental health treatment and services reached $225 billion in 2019, according to an Open Minds Market Intelligence Report. That number, which is up 52% since 2009, includes spending on things like therapy and prescription medications as well as stays in psychiatric or substance abuse rehabilitation facilities. In fact, depression alone is estimated to account for $44 billion in losses to workplace productivity, according to a recent report from Tufts Medical Center and One Mind at Work. Beyond the cost of mental health care, access to care is improving but still a big issue. Access and coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatments have improved in recent years thanks to the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which barred health insurers from making coverage for mental health more restrictive than for physical ailments. But there are still a lot of medical and insurance loopholes that exist that make it difficult for patients to get affordable care, says Angela Kimball, National Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at NAMI. And there are many other factors too, she says. Rural parts of the country tend to lack access to more specialized treatment options, similar to the barriers that exist in traditional physical medicine.