Marriage therapy saves money for taxpayers, health insurers July 19, 2007
A recent study suggests that when couples decide to get help instead of a divorce, those who foot the bill for counseling — taxpayers and insurers, for example — receive a benefit as well. Dr. Ben Caldwell is the assistant program director for the Marital and Family Therapy program at Alliant International University in California. He and two colleagues wanted to find out if relationship counseling would ultimately save taxpayers money. Their study revealed that not only government but health insurers as well would get a sizable return on their investment were they to pay for marital therapy.Caldwell explains that a divorce costs taxpayers an average of $30,000, while a full-course of marital therapy costs about $1,500. “Now therapy doesn’t work for everyone, of course, but the most current models of doing couples therapy that we have work quite well,” he says. “And what we found was if government paid for the screening and treatment of marriages in trouble, then they would get a return of about $1.85 for every dollar spent.”The direct savings, he explains, comes from families not needing temporary housing assistance, food stamps, and child support enforcement. Taxpayers also save indirectly because higher marriage rates result in lower crime and a lower incidence of child abuse, he says.