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HOFSTRA LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW JOURNAL
widespread public support for parity laws.83 The public’s sympathy for individuals suffering from mental illness may be a cause for this support, as such support is not similarly present for parity laws that would cover substance abuse.84 This research also showed that the public is wary of the costs associated with parity laws, especially if the parity law required higher taxes or premiums.85 Public fear of exorbitant costs associated with parity laws is unfounded, as the studies previously discussed have concluded that while there could be negligible increased costs for employers, employers may also save money as a result of parity laws. 86
Mandating Treatment of Depressed Employees: A Potential Financial Windfall for Employers
Depression is a covered mental illness under Timothy’s Law.87 Depressed employees are more expensive than non-depressed employees, forcing employers to take on anywhere from 70% to 147% higher medical costs. 88
A 1998 study published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found increasing evidence that the effective treatment of depression results in productivity gains that potentially offset the cost of such treatment,89 thereby making parity laws covering depression a form of cost-saving legislation for employers. Employers,
8 3 . S e e K r i s t i n a W . H a n s o n , P u b l i c O p i n i o n a n d t h e M e n t a l H e a l t h P a r i t y D e b a t e : L e s s o n s from the Survey Literature, 49 PSYCHIATRIC 1059, 1059 (1998), available at SERVS.
Id. at 1063-64.
Id. at 1065 (demonstrating that “support for a guaranteed mental health benefit dropped
from 69 percent of respondents to 34 percent when the survey questions indicated that higher taxes or premiums would be involved.”). Id. at 1062-63 (footnote omitted).
See id. at 1065.
Timothy’s Law, N.Y. INS. LAW § 3221(5)(B)(ii) (McKinney 2006).
Ron Z. Goetzel et al., The Business Case for Quality Mental Health Services: Why
Employers Should Care About the Mental Health and Well-Being of Their Employees, 44 J. OCCUPATIONAL & ENVTL. MED. 320, 321 (2002) [hereinafter The Business Case for Quality Mental Health Services]. The study concluded that depression was the most expensive medical cost, at an increase of 70%, swelling to 147% when combined with high stress. Id.
89. Id. at 321, 328 (citing Ron Z. Goetzel et al., The Relationship Between Modifiable Health Risks and Health Care Expenditures: An Analysis of the Multi-Employer HERO Health Risk and Cost Database, 40 J. OCCUPATIONAL & ENVTL. MED. 843, 843 (1998) [hereinafter HERO]). This study polled 46,000 employees to analyze the increase in medical costs caused by ten separate
health risk factors.
The ten risk factors were “smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol,
hypertension, poor diet, being overweight, excessive alcohol consumption, high blood glucose, high stress, and depression.” The Business Case for Quality Mental Health Service, supra note 88, at 321.