THE COST OF

CityPress - - Business -

Marie du Plessis* has been treated for de­pres­sion for roughly three years and it costs her more than R5 000 a month to man­age the con­di­tion. She has a hos­pi­tal plan, which costs R1 700 a month, but this does not cover any kind of psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­apy. It only cov­ers up to 20 ses­sions with a psy­chi­a­trist, who she sees four times a year to get a di­ag­no­sis and pre­scrip­tions.

“Over and above this, it costs me roughly R3 000 a month for psy­chother­apy with a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, and R580 for med­i­ca­tion,” she says.

“Med­i­cal aids only cover up to 20 ses­sions with a psy­chi­a­trist – not a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist – for ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­ders be­cause this is con­sid­ered ‘in hos­pi­tal’. The med­i­ca­tion is on the list of ex­empt chronic med­i­ca­tions for cover from in­sur­ance. There was also an in­ci­dent where I needed to get 28 stitches from a self-harm in­jury, but be­cause I was not ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal overnight, the med­i­cal ex­penses were for my own ac­count. I end up spend­ing roughly R5 500 on med­i­cal ex­penses a month.”

One in four adults in South Africa has been di­ag­nosed with or has ex­pe­ri­enced pe­ri­ods of men­tal ill­ness. Many live and work with con­di­tions such as de­pres­sion, chronic anx­i­ety, adult at­ten­tion deficit/hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der and bipo­lar dis­or­der.

The SA De­pres­sion and Anx­i­ety Group es­ti­mates that de­pres­sion alone is cost­ing South Africa more than R218 bil­lion in lost pro­duc­tiv­ity. About R28 bil­lion of this is at­trib­ut­able to un­sched­uled ab­sences from work, while R190 bil­lion can be at­trib­uted to peo­ple go­ing to work while they are un­well.

De­pres­sion, while treat­able, is not cov­ered by some med­i­cal scheme poli­cies and, de­pend­ing on whether you suf­fered from it in the past, it may not even be cov­ered un­der a life or dis­abil­ity pol­icy.

DIS­CRIM­I­NA­TION, EX­CLU­SIONS AND PAY­ING MORE

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