By popular estimates, bipolar disorder affects between 1.5 and 2 percent of the United States population. The cost of treating bipolar disorder can range wildly, depending on where one’s condition falls along the bipolar spectrum, the presence of concurrent disorders, the coverage and deductibles of one’s insurance policy and the type of program selected in a patient’s treatment regimen.
Costs can run high, even in the first year after a bipolar disorder diagnosis, with an average of $19,000 in total treatment costs for the initial year. However, the average first-year out-of-pocket costs for those with insurance plans can be as little as $5,000 in the first year, depending on the patient’s coverage and condition. Most patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder receive inpatient care during the first year, while about a quarter of costs for bipolar patients come from outpatient care treatment during the initial year of treatment.
A significant percentage of the costs associated with treatment for those suffering from bipolar disorder can include treatment of comorbid mental health disorders.
The cost of psychiatric medications, individual and group counseling sessions, substance abuse treatment, emergency intervention and treatment of physical issues (such as eating disorders, self-harm or suicide attempts) all comprise the treatment cost for bipolar individuals. In fact, physical health treatments can also factor into overall bipolar treatment costs, as one study published by the American Psychiatric Association found that non-mental health carefees for the average bipolar patient were four times as high as their non-bipolar counterparts.
Treatment of bipolar disorder across the United States includes more than just the individual’s psychiatric or physical health care treatment. Factors such as familial costs, lost work time and social services also factor into the overall cost of bipolar disorder for society at large – though such costs can escalate when treatment for bipolar disorder is delayed or not sought. Most economic models suggest that bipolar disorder treatment costs society on the whole billions of dollars – with conservative estimates at 24 billion dollars annually and outside estimates at over 40 billion dollars each year.
For those suffering from bipolar disorder, treatment is a necessity, rather than simply an option. While the cost of treating bipolar disorder can seem daunting at first, several options exist to help finance recovery and care. Insurance policies generally offer a host of mental health treatment options – from inpatient to outpatient care – once an official diagnosis of bipolar disorder has been given. For those with a dual diagnosis of drug or alcohol addiction in addition to bipolar disorder, many inpatient substance abuse rehabilitation facilities can offer services for both conditions that often fall under an individual’s insurance coverage. State-funded assistance can also be sought under a variety of governmental programs, including state-run health care initiatives for those with lower incomes. Some inpatient treatment programs – and even professional clinical therapists – offer sliding scales for those without high levels of means to take advantage of, as well. Some individuals with bipolar disorder seek financial assistance – or even personal loans – from loved ones, recognizing treatment for the disorder as an investment towards a more functional (and generally more financially secure) future.
Integrated Treatment of Substance Abuse & Mental Illness