Gov’t reveals overseas mental health claims

More than half of the government insurance claims for short-term overseas mental health care last year were related to treatment for alcohol dependency.

Government health insurance claims for overseas mental health care last year totalled $114,138 dollars, with more $60,000 relating to dependency on alcohol, according to Cinico and the Health Services Authority.

The insurance claims were paid out by Cinico, the government’s health care provider, and were supplemented by the Health Services Authority. The claims included costs for $21,184 to pay for travel for patients and/or escorts who accompanied those in need of treatment.

The data was released to The Caymanian Compass following a Freedom of Information request.

Psychiatrist at the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital Dr. Mark Lockhart, said many mental illnesses are associated with alcohol and drug abuse.

He said that as these increase, so do the instances of need for treatment of some kind. ‘This is a trend that is not only affecting the Cayman Islands, but all of the region and indeed the world,’ said Dr. Lockhart.

He added that the cost to society was a key motivating factor in education, awareness and prevention.

Most of the claims were related to treatment for alcohol dependency, which accounted for $63,560 – more than half of all mental health claims paid out during 2008. Non-psychotic brain syndrome accounted for a distant second at $11,665.

These visits to overseas treatment centres were related to short-term treatment for patients. They do not account for what the HSA and Cinico paid for those in need of long-term care. That number is currently being sought by way of another Freedom of Information request.

Other claims associated with off-shore care for 2008 included: neurotic depression; tension headaches; depressive disorder; conduct disturbance; attention deficit with hyperactivity; and mild mental retardation.

It is not unusual for patients to be referred overseas, according to mental health practitioners at the George Town hospital. There are no long-term mental health facilities in Cayman.

Others included: senile dementia; paranoid schizophrenia; infantile autism; neurotic depression; recurring depression; senile delirium; organic brain syndrome.

Civil servants do not pay deductibles on their insurance claims and so the only other cost to the government is servicing policies along with respective government employees.