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Impact of mental health visits on healthcare cost in patients with diabetes and comorbid mental health disorders.

Egede LE, Gebregziabher M, Zhao Y, Dismuke CE, Walker RJ, Hunt KJ, Axon RN. Impact of mental health visits on healthcare cost in patients with diabetes and comorbid mental health disorders. PLoS ONE. 2014 Aug 1; 9(8):e103804.

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PURPOSE: To assess the impact of mental health visits (MHV) on the cost of care for Veterans with diabetes and comorbid mental health conditions. METHODS: A national cohort of 120,852 Veterans with diabetes and at least one mental health diagnosis (i.e., substance abuse, depression or psychoses) in 2002 was followed through 2006. Outcomes were pharmacy, inpatient and outpatient costs in 2012 dollars. RESULTS: Least-square covariate adjusted estimates from the joint model of total VA costs of the number of MHV using December 31, 2012 value dollars indicate that relative to those with fewer MHV, those with 3+ MHV had the lowest mean inpatient cost ($21,406), but the highest mean outpatient and pharmacy cost ($9,727 and $2,015, respectively). If all Veterans who received zero MHV actually received 3+ MHV, we estimate through simulated scenarios that between $32,272,329 and $181,460,247 in inpatient costs would be saved. However, these savings would be offset by additional expenditures of between $1,166,017,547 and $1,166,224,787 in outpatient costs and between $151,604,683 and $161,439,632 in pharmacy costs. CONCLUSIONS: Among Veterans with diabetes and comorbid mental disorders having three or more mental health visits is associated with marginally decreased inpatient cost, but these potential savings seem to be offset by increased outpatient and pharmacy costs.

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