ADHD diagnoses are more rampant than ever. In the past decade alone, there has been a 41% increase in diagnoses, coinciding with a 28% increase in children taking drugs to treat ADHD.
Although ADHD is a legitimate disorder, one out of every five children is misdiagnosed with it. The disorder's symptoms, including hyperactivity and a lack of focus, is common behavior among most kids, so the difficulty in the diagnosis is understandable, but not without a serious financial cost.
There are some very significant financial repercussions due to the rise in ADHD diagnoses. The annual cost of ADHD stimulant treatment is $1.6 to $2.5 billion. Much of this cost is helpful in treating those who have ADHD, but the rash of misdiagnoses has contributed to between $320 million and $500 million unnecessary medical costs per year. Medicaid is only responsible for paying 4-5% of that.
The cost of ADHD treatment extends beyond the national level and into the homes of families as well. The average age of a child diagnosed with ADHD is 7 years old. From that point forward, on average the cost to treat them until age 18 is $17,314. In such a tough economy, a misdiagnosis costing a family that much in medical costs can be very detrimental. ADHD is an entirely legitimate condition that afflicts many children, but it's clear that more precautions need to be made in the diagnosis process.