ADHD is rarely considered on anything other than a personal level. However, untreated ADHD can have tremendous and cascading consequences. Missing a child’s ADHD can lead to bullying, educational problems, failed relationships, poor career options, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and a number of other problems that affect not only the individual but society at large.
Despite this, little research has been done on the topic of ADHD and public health. What research does exist is largely outdated. In a study released by the CDC in 1999 the cost of ADHD on the education system was estimated to be $3.5 – 4.0 billion every year. And this estimate only took into account the children receiving special education services. The study was unable to answer basic questions about ADHD in relation to the healthcare system, labor market, and correctional/justice system. They were able to note that the average reimbursement for a child with ADHD by Medicaid was $1,795. They also noted that private insurance did not cover evaluations for children with ADHD, which likely leads to children being diagnosed with ADHD later as parents are reluctant to pay out of pocket.
The same study acknowledged that a lack of research in areas including costs to schools, costs outside of school during childhood, costs to family, costs during adulthood, data surrounding parents of children with ADHD, economic impact on the family, and workforce participation for parents and children. A number of other indirect results were identified as being in need of research as well. Ultimately, the only recommendation the group was able to make for sure was that early intervention for children with ADHD helps reduce problems in the child’s future dramatically. Essentially, the earlier the diagnosis the better.