Cost analysis of depression using the national insurance system in South Korea: a comparison of depression and treatment-resistant depression

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Shin, Daun; Kim, Nam Woo; Kim, Min Ji; Rhee, Sang Jin; Park, Christopher H K; Kim, Hyeyoung; Yang, Bo Ram; Kim, Mi-sook; Choi, Gum Jee; Koh, Minjung; Ahn, Yong Min
Issue Date
BMC Health Services Research. 2020 Apr 06;20(1):286
Costs and cost analysisDepressionDepressive disordertreatment-resistantNational Health Programs
The incidence and burden of depressive disorders are increasing in South Korea. There are many differences between pharmaceutically treated depression (PTD) and treatment-resistant depression (TRD), including the economic consequences; however, to our knowledge, the economic burden of depression is understudied in South Korea. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to calculate the different economic costs of PTD and TRD in South Korea, specifically by comparing several aspects of medical care.

This study comprised patients aged 18 and over who were newly prescribed antidepressants for more than 28 days with a depression code included from January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2012, by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA). TRD was classified as more than two antidepressant regimen failures in PTD patients. The cost was calculated based on the cost reflected on the receipt registered with HIRA.

Of the 834,694 patients with PTD, 34,812 patients (4.17%) were converted to TRD. The cost of medical care for TRD (6,610,487 KRW, 5881 USD) was approximately 5 times higher than the cost of non-TRD (1,273,045 KRW, 1133 USD) and was significantly higher for patients with or without depression and suicide codes. Medical expenses incurred by non-psychiatrists were roughly 1.7 times higher than those incurred by psychiatrists.

TRD patients had significantly higher healthcare costs than PTD patients. Identifying these financial aspects of care for depression can help to establish a more effective policy to reduce the burden on mentally ill patients.
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College of Medicine/School of Medicine (의과대학/대학원)Dept. of Biomedical Sciences (대학원 의과학과)Journal Papers (저널논문_의과학과)
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