Employees with Substance Abuse Problems Have Higher Medical Costs than Those with Other Chronic Problems, Three-Year Study Finds

Researchers at Brandeis University analyzed the impact of managed care on the costs of substance abuse treatment in the private sector.

Starting in October 1992, the investigators studied the cost-reduction and containment strategies of three large firms:

  • A manufacturer with 35,000 employees
  • A utility company with 12,000 employees
  • And an oil company with 6,500 employees

The project helped educate the field about what could and could not be learned about the costs of substance abuse from claims data collected by companies.

Key Findings

  • Insurance claims data are more suitable for researching some questions than others.

  • More than half of the dually diagnosed incurred significant charges over three years in both mental health and substance abuse.

  • Substance abuse patients often, but not always, incur higher charges than people with other chronic conditions.