Good behavioral health care saves lives, money

By Lee Grogg
Executive Director

Everyone is encouraged to go on line and simply Google the term Adverse Childhood Experiences and you will find a wealth of information instantly available.

Research reveals very strong links between Adverse Childhood Experiences and use of injected drugs among both men and women as well as a host of other physical problems. (78% of injection drug use by women can be attributed to Adverse Childhood Experiences and 67% for the combined population of men and women.) Dr. Felitti (one of the authors of the study) asserts that the root cause of most addictions is the attempt to cope with unresolved and unhealed wounds from Adverse Childhood Experiences. You are again urged to read more about this on line.

According to a March 18 press release by Psychiatric News, regarding some recently released research findings from Harvard and RAND that compared utilization and cost data relative to parity insurance coverage for substance abuse treatment, a number of old assumptions used by the opponents of parity are simply not supported. Those assumptions included one that said more people having this kind of coverage would result in higher utilization by the covered population. A related assumption was that this would also increase the out of pocket expenses by those covered and using the services. Both of these assumptions were demonstrated to be wrong. Utilization of the Substance Abuse benefit did not increase in the population where parity was in effect and the out of pocket expenditures by the insured also actually dropped. In summary, “…this parity law does what it’s supposed to do, lower out of pocket expenses for covered individuals and not increase overall costs.”

A couple of conclusions can be drawn from these two separate research efforts. First healthcare coverage reform that more promptly and effectively addresses the damage done to children by Adverse Childhood Experiences is a wise long term economic strategy. The second conclusion is that healthcare reform efforts currently underway which include parity coverage for mental health /substance abuse disorders is not intrinsically more costly in the short run.