Mental illnesses cause high costs

Health care system: Mental illnesses are causing rising costs

Since 2002, the health care costs of mental illnesses such as dementia and depression have increased by approximately 32 percent. In contrast, the average cost increase for all diseases was only around 16 percent. Mental illnesses with costs of just under 28.7 billion euros are now in third place in the Federal Statistical Office's calculation of medical expenses. Only cardiovascular diseases (37 billion euros) and diseases of the digestive system (34.8 billion euros) cause even more costs in the health system. Among the mental illnesses, dementia diseases with 9.4 billion euros and depression with 5.2 billion euros are the two largest positions.

Background on the topic:
Increase in mental illness among adolescents
Depression (depressive syndrome)
Absenteeism: Increase in mental illness

The causes of the enormous increase in costs

The causes of the enormous increase in costs for mental illnesses are complex and even controversial among experts. It is clear that the number of cases has increased extremely. However, the experts do not know exactly why this is the case, according to the speaker of the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists, Johannes Klein-Hessling. It is assumed that on the one hand mental illnesses are recognized more frequently today, i.e. more frequent treatments are used. On the other hand, people who e.g. B. suffering from depression, today much less stigmatized than a few years ago and are therefore more likely to seek support from a psychotherapist.

In addition, the experts at the health insurance companies suspect that stress in working life contributes significantly to the increase in psychologically related diseases. Around 18 percent of Germans have suffered from depression in their lifetime and around 4 million people are currently suffering from moderate to severe depression (approx. 5 percent of the population). However, it can be assumed that the number of unreported cases is still considerably higher, because even today, not all depressions are recognized and treated as such. In the case of dementia, the massive increase in costs is essentially due to the increased life expectancy, as there are more and more old people and the mental ailments increase with age.

The Federal Ministry of Health is hoping that a comprehensive health study will provide further insights into the exact circumstances that lead to the extremely high number of mental illnesses.

The fact that the cost increase for mental illnesses is so high is, however, due to the growing number of cases also due to the intensity of treatment that such illnesses require. So z. the Barmer GEK determines that patients who are in the hospital with a mental illness stay there for an average of around three weeks.

The absenteeism of employees due to mental illness has also increased extremely in recent years, as the BKK and the scientific institute of the AOK found in separate studies. According to the experts, around 8.6 percent of sick days were due to mental illness in 2009. This makes mental illness the fourth most common cause of sick days. In addition, mental illnesses are becoming an increasingly common reason for early retirement from work.

In the course of the massive increase in mental illnesses, the need for therapists has risen extremely. the number of psychotherapists has increased from 16,500 to approx. 20,000 between 2002 and 2008, according to the registry office. A spokesman for the Chamber of Psychotherapists, however, should not be responsible for the increase in costs, since their share of the total medical fee is too small to have a noticeable impact on the overall cost calculation.

Another cost factor for mental illnesses does not appear in the previous calculation, but can easily be seen from the response of the Federal Ministry of Health to a request from the Green Group in the Bundestag: The cost of lost production due to mental illness amounts to almost four billion euros annually, the failure In terms of gross value added in Germany, it is almost seven billion euros, according to the Federal Ministry of Health's response, citing statistics from the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. If these numbers are summed up with the above-mentioned illness-related costs, the result is a sum of approx. 78 billion euros that the gross value added in Germany is lost due to illnesses of the employees. (sb)

Author and source information

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