NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Public Insurance and Psychotropic Prescription Medications for Mental Illness

Johanna Catherine Maclean, Benjamin L. Cook, Nicholas Carson, Michael F. Pesko

NBER Working Paper No. 23760
Issued in August 2017, Revised in November 2017
NBER Program(s):AG, HC, HE

Mental illnesses are prevalent in the United States, and cost is a critical barrier to treatment receipt. We study the effects of recent and major eligibility expansions within Medicaid 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 2011-2016. Our findings suggest that these expansions increased psychotropic prescriptions by 22% with heterogeneity across psychotropic class and state characteristics that proxy for patient need, expansion scope, and system capacity. We show that Medicaid, and not patients, financed these prescriptions. Finally, we document that mental illness declined.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23760

 
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