Cambridge Health Alliance
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NBER Working Papers and Publications
|August 2017||Public Insurance and Psychotropic Prescription Medications for Mental Illness|
with Johanna Catherine Maclean, Benjamin L. Cook, Michael F. Pesko: w23760
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...