【经管院每周系列讲座第 294 期】Depression Hurts, Depression Costs: The Medical Spending Attributable to Depression and Depressive Symptoms in China


Abstract: 本文利用中国家庭追踪调查数据,在国内首次估计了成年人抑郁症带来的医疗成本。Due to its fast economic growth and lifestyle changes, China is experiencing a rapid epidemiological transition from communicable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Mental disorder such as depression is an important yet often neglected NCD, and is becoming a growing cause of disability, suicides and disease burden. This paper provides the first nationally representative estimate of the medical cost attributable to depression and depressive symptoms among the adult population in China. Based on the 2012 CFPS (China Family Panel Studies) survey, our results indicate that these mental health conditions have significant impacts on the individual expected medical expenditure, and they jointly contribute to 14% of total personal medical spending in China, with depression and depressive symptoms account for 4.76% and 9.25%, respectively. Given that patients with mental illness face several hurdles in seeking appropriate treatment, the high depression-induced medical costs may be primarily driven by the cost-shifting effect from mental healthcare to general healthcare, as mental disorders often co-exist with other NCDs such as diabetes and hypertension. As an implication, our study calls for an urgent reform of China’s mental health and insurance systems to remove the policy-induced obstacles for the access to mental healthcare resources.