NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Insurance Expansions and Children's Use of Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Sarah Hamersma, Johanna Catherine Maclean

NBER Working Paper No. 24499
Issued in April 2018, Revised in February 2020
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Care, Health Economics

We provide the first evidence on the effects of expansions to private and public insurance programs on children’s use of specialty substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. We combine administrative government data over the period 1996 to 2017 with quasi-experimental differences-in-differences methods to study this question. Expansions of the private market – laws that compel insurers to cover SUD treatment services as parity with general healthcare – increase admissions by 21%. Increases in admissions are driven by patients with private coverage and receiving outpatient care. The number of admissions of patients with no insurance also increases following parity law adoption. There is mixed evidence on changes in admissions following a public insurance expansion that increases the income eligibility thresholds for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24499

 
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