Therapy in L.A.

 

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July 2002
Compiled by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

HMO PREMIUMS INCREASING DRAMATICALLY

Insurance premiums for HMO coverage for 2003 are surging more than 20%, according to a survey by a human resources company (Hewitt Associates). This will be three years in a row of double-digit increases.

As companies begin to negotiate contracts for health coverage for 2003, rates are increasing an average of 22% with the largest increase at 94%. HMO premiums for 2002 rose an average of 15.3%. Hewitt's website includes rate information for nearly 140 companies, covering more than one million employees. This was reported in the Los Angeles Times, Business section, on June 6, 2002.

In a related story with a more local focus, premiums for HMO coverage for California Public Employees' Retirement System, known as CALPERS, are increasing 25%, twice the increase in 2002. CALPERS is the nation's second largest purchaser of health care insurance (after the federal government), and therefore it is a bellwether for plans across the entire country. The advisory panel for CALPERS blames the increase on rising costs for medications and office visits. The president of the organization, William Crist expects businesses to begin dropping health plans for at least some workers: "It's a downward death cycle. It is a sea change that requires a public policy change." This was reported in Psychotherapy Finances, May 2002. Website: www,psyfin.com.

HOW COMMON ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL DIFFICULTIES?

The facts about the frequency of psychological difficulties (contained in a survey by the National Mental Health Association):
  • more than 54 million Americans (one in five) experience a "mental disorder" in any given year; a "mental disorder" is a psychological difficulty sufficiently serious that it qualifies for a diagnosis according to the diagnostic manual published by the American Psychiatric Association;
  • about 8 million (16%) will seek therapy;
  • about 15 % who have a "mental disorder" in any year also have a substance abuse problem that complicates their difficulties;
  • one percent of the population has schizophrenia - more than 2.5 million people;
  • the two most common "mental disorders" are depression and anxiety disorders;
  • depression ranks among the top three work place problems - only family crisis and stress are more prevalent;
  • by the year 2020, depression will be the second greatest cause of premature death and disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization;
  • of the 500,000 attempts at suicide made each year by Americans, 30,000 are successful; of the suicide victims, 90% have a "mental disorder".


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