Numbers Do Not Lie: Shedding Light on Funding Disparity
From a managed-care perspective, bipolar disorder is among the most costly of all mental health conditions, having an enormous impact on the U.S. healthcare system, costing an estimated $30 billion in direct expenditures and $120 billion in indirect costs each year. According to the CDC, bipolar disorder has been deemed the most expensive behavioral health care diagnosis, costing more than twice as much as depression per affected individual.
Despite these costs, the National Institute for Health (NIH), the leading government public health agency, estimates spending only $74 million next year for the treatment of bipolar disorder.
No one asks for physical diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, but no one asks for bipolar disorder either. It is 70% genetic and 30% environmental. Why should those with bipolar disorder be treated differently for something they were born with or their upbringing contributed to and brought to the surface?
When we are looking at billions of dollars in health care expenditures, not to mention the costs associated with disability, why is the federal government only spending millions of dollars on treatment for this killer disease?
We believe the huge funding disparity is due to the fact that mental illness is not viewed as a physical illness when there is now ample evidence it clearly is one. Researchers have made great strides mapping out the bipolar brain using MRIs and neuroimaging techniques demonstrating clear and consistent alterations in key brain regions. Bipolar disorder is a brain disease, a chemical imbalance.