Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Psychiatrist Helped Demonstrate Psychotherapy Is Cost-Effective

Whether psychotherapy is cost-effective was an important question during President Clinton's health care reform effort. Lessons from that era remain relevant during current health reform debates.

If psychotherapy has a place in the American health care system of tomorrow, give some credit to psychiatrist Susan Lazar, M.D., and other clinician-researchers who helped establish the evidence base for the cost-effectiveness of psychotherapy beginning more than 16 years ago.

That was when Hillary Rodham Clinton's Health Care Task Force was at work. Though the exact content of health insurance benefit packages hasn't yet been a focus of today's health care debates, a decade and a half ago task force members were weighing the relative value of any health care service as a criterion for inclusion in mandated benefits.

And “value” meant cost-effectiveness—the cost of providing the service compared with the benefits derived from the service.