National spending on mental health and substance abuse treatment by age of clients, 1997
This article examines 1997 national expenditures on mental health and substance abuse (MH/SA) treatment by 3 major age groups: 0-17, 18-64, and 65 and older. Of the total $82.4 billion in MH/SA expenditures, 13% went to children, 72% to adults, and 15% to older adults. MH/SA treatment expenditures made up 9% of total health care expenditures on children, 11% of total health care expenditures on adults, and 3% of total health care expenditures on older adults. Across the 3 age groups, distinct differences emerged in the distribution of MH/SA expenditures by provider-type. For example, about 85% of spending for youth was for specialty MH/SA providers, compared to 76% for adults and 51% for older adults. In addition, 33% of MH/SA spending for older adults went to nursing home care, while other age groups had almost no expenditures in nursing homes. Age-specific estimates enable policymakers, providers, and researchers to design programs and studies more appropriately tailored to specific age groups.