Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Friday, March 25, 2005

This one is going to make the news soon

Supposedly, 27% of all adults received some form of mental health care over the past two years - including therapy, drugs, or both. The information is available in the Harris Interactive Market Research Newsletter.

From the Census Bureau, there are approximately 217.8 million people age 18 and over in the United States. This would indicate approximately 58.8 million people are being treated for mental health issues, or 29.4 million per year. If each person spends one thousand dollars per year on mental health treatent (likely an underestimate given insurance spending) , the mental health industry would be around $ 29 403 000 000 per year. This might be reasonable.

However, the 27% number was generated from a survey of 500 adults:

This "finding" is likely to result in demands that the federal government spend even more money on the mental health of many who likely don't really need the therapy to be able to live in society. Those who actually need treatment to live in modern society are, in my mind, different from those who voluntarily undergo therapy in order to cope with the flowers that died over the weekend.

500 adults is 0.00228% of the adult population. If the 500 came from the Harvard Faculty, I could easily believe the number. If the 500 came from the United States congress, I could easily believe the number. If the 500 came from the corn fields of Iowa, I would find the number less easy to belive.

What damage will be wrought on the my current and future bank accounts from surveys such as this?

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