Summary of Talk:
Due to its fast economic growth and lifestyle changes, China is experiencing a rapid epidemiological transition from communicable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Mental disorder such as depression is an important yet often neglected NCD, and is becoming a growing cause of disability, suicides and disease burden. This paper provides the first nationally representative estimate of the medical cost attributable to depression and depressive symptoms among the adult population in China. Based on the 2012 CFPS (China Family Panel Studies) survey, our results indicate that these mental health conditions have significant impacts on the individual expected medical expenditure, and they jointly contribute to 14% of total personal medical spending in China, with depression and depressive symptoms account for 4.76% and 9.25%, respectively. Given that patients with mental illness face several hurdles in seeking appropriate treatment, the high depression-induced medical costs may be primarily driven by the cost-shifting effect from mental healthcare to general healthcare, as mental disorders often co-exist with other NCDs such as diabetes and hypertension. As an implication, our study calls for an urgent reform of China’s mental health and insurance systems to remove the policy-induced obstacles for the access to mental healthcare resources.
Xuezheng Qin is an associate professor and the assistant dean in the School of Economics at Peking University. He earned his B.S. from Peking University and his Ph.D. in Economics from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Qin’s primary research interests include health economics, labor economics, and applied econometrics. He has published numerous papers in international peer-reviewed journals such as Health Economics, Journal of Comparative Economics, China Economic Review, Health Policy and Planning, Health Economics Policy and Law, European Journal of Health Economics, and Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance. He is also the author of two economics textbooks – Principles of Economics, and Applied Econometrics. His research is funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China, Ministry of Education of China, International Development Research Centre (Canada), and others. Dr. Qin is a guest editor of China Economic Review and Emerging Market Finance and Trade, and he also serves on the editorial board of China Health Review and as an expert reviewer for National Natural Science Foundation of China. He is included in Beijing Higher Education Young Elite Teacher Project and has gained other recognitions. In Peking University, Dr. Qin teaches Econometrics, Health Economics and Chinese Economic Transition; his teaching has won national awards in China’s multimedia course competition.