Cost of Treating Mental Illness From a Managed Care Perspective

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The issue of cost-effectiveness in the pharmacoeconomics of mental illness is a new concept. As methodologies for exploring this subject unfold, the most fundamental objective for health care professionals and managed care officials is to find ways in which currently available resources can be used most effectively. The managed care perspective is highly cost-based within the market it serves. In addition to cost, other factors that influence the managed care perspective are a short-term focus, segmentation of budgets, and measurable indicators of outcome, cost, and quality of care. The cost of new psychopharmacology—especially antidepressants and antipsychotics—may be many times that of traditional drugs, and concern about increased drug costs is present in many managed care organizations. Several issues must be addressed to prevent restriction of pharmacotherapeutics in managed care settings. For example, a focus on both outcomes and practice guidelines is needed to help allocate limited resources fairly. This article suggests ways in which available resources can be used more effectively to treat mental illness within the present health care system.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(suppl 3):49-52