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Public Insurance and Psychotropic Prescription Medications for Mental Illness

Author

Listed:
  • Johanna Catherine Maclean
  • Benjamin L. Cook
  • Nicholas Carson
  • Michael F. Pesko

Abstract

Mental illnesses are prevalent in the United States and globally. Cost is a critical barrier to treatment receipt. We study the effects of recent and major eligibility expansions within Medicaid, a public insurance system for the poor in the U.S., on psychotropic prescription medications for mental illness. We estimate differences-in-differences models using administrative data on medications for which Medicaid was a third-party payer over the period 2011 to 2017. Our findings suggest that these expansions increased psychotropic prescriptions by 22.3%. We show that Medicaid, and not patients, financed these prescriptions. For states expanding Medicaid, the total cost of these prescriptions was $30.8M. Expansion effects were experienced across most major mental illness categories and across states with different levels of patient need, system capacity, and expansion scope. We find no evidence that Medicaid expansion reduced a proxy for serious mental illness: suicide.

Suggested Citation

  • Johanna Catherine Maclean & Benjamin L. Cook & Nicholas Carson & Michael F. Pesko, 2017. "Public Insurance and Psychotropic Prescription Medications for Mental Illness," NBER Working Papers 23760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23760
    Note: AG HC HE
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23760.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Frean, Molly & Gruber, Jonathan & Sommers, Benjamin D., 2017. "Premium subsidies, the mandate, and Medicaid expansion: Coverage effects of the Affordable Care Act," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 72-86.
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    7. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Brendan Saloner, 2019. "The Effect of Public Insurance Expansions on Substance Use Disorder Treatment: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 38(2), pages 366-393, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maclean, J. Catherine & Tello-Trillo, Sebastian & Webber, Douglas A., 2019. "Losing Insurance and Behavioral Health Hospitalizations: Evidence from a Large-Scale Medicaid Disenrollment," IZA Discussion Papers 12463, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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