Impacts of the Dependent Care Expansion on the Allocation of Mental Health Care

Published in: Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research (2018). doi:10.1007/s10488-018-0895-5

Posted on RAND.org on September 21, 2018

by Joshua Breslau, Bradley D. Stein, Hao Yu, Rachel M. Burns, Bing Han

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We examine the impact of insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act's Dependent Care Expansion (DCE) on allocation of mental health care across illness severity, types of care and racial/ethnic groups. Evidence suggests that the increase in mental health care utilization resulting from the DCE was restricted to individuals with clinically significant mental health conditions. There is no evidence suggesting that the increase occurred disproportionately in medication-only treatment or that it increased racial/ethnic disparities. The DCE appears to have been successful in increasing utilization of mental health care among a high need group without lowering quality or increasing disparities.

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