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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Autism, Medicaid, and Health Care Spending

Previous posts have discussed the health problems of people on the spectrum, and the role of Medicaid in supporting treatment. At The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Li Wang and colleagues have an article titled "Healthcare Service Use and Costs for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comparison Between Medicaid and Private Insurance." Here is the abstract:
Healthcare costs and service use for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were compared between Medicaid and private insurance, using 2003 insurance claims data in 24 states. In terms of costs and service use per child with ASD, Medicaid had higher total healthcare costs (22653vs 5,254), higher ASD-specific costs (7438vs 928), higher psychotropic medication costs(1468vs 875), more speech therapy visits (13.0 vs. 3.6 visits), more occupational/physical therapy visits (6.4 vs. 0.9 visits), and more behavior modification/social skills visits (3.8 vs. 1.1 visits) than private insurance (all p < 0.0001). In multivariate analysis, being enrolled in Medicaid had the largest effect on costs, after controlling for other variables. The findings emphasize the need for continued efforts to improve private insurance coverage of autism.