Public Insurance and Psychotropic Prescription Medications for Mental Illness

47 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2017 Last revised: 4 Jun 2021

See all articles by Catherine Maclean

Catherine Maclean

Temple University

Benjamin L. Cook

Harvard University - Cambridge Health Alliance

Nicholas Carson

Harvard University - Cambridge Health Alliance

Michael Pesko

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2017

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

Maclean, Catherine and Cook, Benjamin L. and Carson, Nicholas and Pesko, Michael, Public Insurance and Psychotropic Prescription Medications for Mental Illness (August 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23760, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3031731

Catherine Maclean (Contact Author)

Temple University ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Benjamin L. Cook

Harvard University - Cambridge Health Alliance ( email )

120 Beacon Street, 4th Floor
Somerville, MA 02143
United States

Nicholas Carson

Harvard University - Cambridge Health Alliance

Michael Pesko

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
11
Abstract Views
208
PlumX Metrics