Costs of Emergency Department Visits for Mental and Substance Use Disorders
Hospital emergency department (ED) visits have been growing rapidly, with the rate of increase exceeding that for hospital inpatient care. The rate of ED visits for mental health and substance abuse diagnoses increased 44.1 percent from 2006 to 2014, to a rate of 20.3 visits per 1,000 population.
Costs of Emergency Department Visits for Mental and Substance Use Disorders in the United States), a statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, presents statistics on the costs of ED visits with diagnoses of mental and substance use disorders (MSUDs) in the United States using the 2017 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample.
- There were 23.1 million visits to hospital EDs with one or more diagnoses of MSUDs in 2017, which represented 16 percent of the 144.8 million total ED visits.
- Service delivery costs for MSUD-related ED visits were $14.6 billion, or $630 per visit, compared with $74.6 billion for all ED visits, or $530 per visit. The average cost per MSUD ED visit was 19 percent higher than the average cost for all ED visits.
- The five most costly MSUD diagnoses (anxiety and fear-related disorders; depressive disorders; alcohol-related disorders; bipolar and related disorders; suicidal ideation/attempt/intentional self-harm) accounted for 67 percent of total MSUD ED visit costs.
- The share of costs for ED visits with routine discharges home from the ED was smaller for MSUD ED visits than for all ED visits (68.0 vs. 81.4 percent). In contrast, the share of costs for ED visits resulting in an admission to the hospital was larger for MSUD ED visits than for all ED visits (19.0 vs. 9.5 percent).
- Medicare had the largest share of ED visit costs for anxiety and depressive disorders. Medicaid had the largest share of costs for alcohol-related and suicidal disorders.