Who Pays for Children’s Bipolar Care?

Bipolar treatment for children can be costly and insurance may only pay for part of it

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Kids with bipolar disorder may need medications, therapy, and hospital stays. Health insurance may cover some but not all of the care needed.

A recent study found that families with insurance still paid about $1,500 per year from their own funds for their child’s bipolar treatments.

Insurance paid most of the cost, but co-pays and services not covered can add up quickly.

"Talk to your insurance company about all types of coverage."

The study, led by Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD, of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, looked at health records for kids with bipolar disorder.

They used insurance claims to look at the types of health care used by kids with bipolar disorder. They also looked at the costs of treatments over one year.

Researchers looked at the records of 4,973 children with private insurance who were under age 17.

Private insurance companies, like BlueCross-BlueShield or United Health, are paid for by you or your job. Medicaid or state-funded health insurance were not part of this study.

The researchers found that health insurance paid for most of the mental health services for kids with bipolar disorder. Insurance paid an average of $10,372 for each child.

Parents paid an average of $1,429 for services not covered by insurance.

Mental health services, like psychiatrists, were used more than they any other health care. For children in this study, 71 percent of all the health care costs were for mental health services.

Medication accounted for 24 percent of mental health costs. Hospital stays accounted for 27 percent of kids’ mental health costs.

However, the dollar amounts given here are averages. Some parents may have spent more or less to pay for mental health services for their child.

Insurance plans can have different levels of coverage for mental health services. Knowing what is covered and what is not can help parents plan for their child’s needs.

This study was published August 1 in Psychiatric Services. Funding and financial conflict information was not available.

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Review Date: 
August 22, 2012
Last Updated:
August 24, 2012