Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Another "D'OH!" Moment, Rx-Style

If your employer paid for your groceries, wouldn't you eat a lot more steak (vegetarians excepted, of course)?
What if the guy down the street offered to make your car payments? You'd be at the Beemer dealer ASAP, right?
And what if your cousin offered to buy you a boat? You'd probably opt for the yacht over the canoe, wouldn't you?
So why is this a shocker?
Wow, never saw that one coming, did we?
That's part of the problem with how we currently finance health care: there are so many (expensive) mandated insurance benefits that it's almost a challenge to spend them all. Mental health parity mandates make such meds more accessible and affordable. Now, I'm all for affordability - to a point. That point is where folks take a look at the low cost of care (since someone else is ostensibly paying for it), and that leads to over-utilization and hence, higher rates.
This part's scary:
"[Researchers] said 73 percent more adults and 50 percent more children are using drugs to treat mental illness than in 1996."
Are there really half again as many pyschotic/neurotic kids now than a scant 13 years ago? Should so many of our progeny be on potentially dangerous mood-altering drugs? I don't know (I'm not a doc), but that's certainly a valid - and important - question.
So why aren't we asking it?
The adult side of the equation isn't much better: "Among adults over 65, use of so-called psychotropic drugs — which include antidepressants, antipsychotics and Alzheimer's medicines — doubled between 1996 and 2006."
I can see where the new Alzheimer's meds are critical (regular readers know why), but are there really that many depressed seniors? Maybe, but then oughtn't we be asking why?
Of course, when all you have is a hammer, a lot of medical problems look like nails:
"... expanded drug coverage under Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program for poor children, helped make such drugs more affordable."
Is that a feature or a bug?
[Hat Tip: Holly Robinson]
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