“For five years, Christine Byrd figured her teenage daughter was going through a phase when she became withdrawn from friends and family and brushed off meals at home. It was only when Pepper Snider turned 17 that she was diagnosed with anorexia, triggering five years of intensive treatment, including thrice-weekly therapy, residential care, and hospital stays. The total of $55,000 she spent out of pocket has left Byrd, 56 and widowed, with no retirement savings and five-figure credit card debt that she’s slowly paying off. ‘It was a long journey,’ says Byrd of her now-28-year-old daughter’s recovery. ‘But it was worth it to see her get back on track,'” write Elizabeth O’Brien and Taylor Tepper over at Money magazine. “Every year, nearly one in five American adults experiences anxiety, depression, or another mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. Others struggle with substance abuse. For many, the problem can be a manageable condition, a backdrop to a job and family time. For a smaller group, a mental illness can have a profound effect on day-to-day life, making it hard to stay in school or go to work. But no matter where someone falls on that spectrum, a mental-health challenge can strike deeply at a family’s financial well-being. Treating a condition like depression or anxiety can prove costly in a myriad of ways. Almost half of psychiatrists don’t take private insurance, raising the odds that you’ll have to go out of network for care and shoulder higher out-of-pocket expenses as a result. Prescription-drug bills can be an ongoing drag on your budget. Insurance claims seem to be denied at higher rates than those for medical care are. Overall, patients bear 16% of the total costs of mental-health treatments, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the highest portion of any common illness studied, including high blood pressure and diabetes. .. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Eight years ago Congress passed a law intended to put insurance coverage for mental health on par with medical coverage. Two years later the Affordable Care Act made mental-health and substance abuse coverage an essential benefit that every qualified plan must offer. Both initiatives have helped soften the financial blow. Still, true parity remains an unfinished promise.” Elizabeth O’Brien and Taylor Tepper, “Mental Health: How to Handle the Costs of Depression,” Money magazine.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded... More by Jeanne Pinder