Patterns in Geographic Distribution of Substance Use Disorder Treatment Facilities in the US and Accepted Forms of Payment From 2010 to 2021
Published in: JAMA Network Open, Volume 5, No. 11 (2022). doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.41128
Posted on RAND.org on January 25, 2023
The drug overdose crisis is a continuing public health problem and is expected to grow substantially in older adults. Understanding the geographic accessibility to a substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facility that accepts Medicare can inform efforts to address this crisis in older adults.
To assess whether geographic accessibility of services was limited for older adults despite the increasing need for SUD and opioid use disorder treatments in this population.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This longitudinal cross-sectional study obtained data on all licensed SUD treatment facilities for all US counties and Census tracts listed in the National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs from 2010 to 2021.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Measures included the national proportion of treatment facilities accepting Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, or cash as a form of payment; the proportion of counties with a treatment facility accepting each form of payment; and the proportion of the national population with Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, or cash payment residing within a 15-, 30-, or 60-minute driving time from an SUD treatment facility accepting their form of payment in 2021.
A total of 11,709 SUD treatment facilities operated across the US per year between 2010 and 2021 (140,507 facility-year observations). Cash was the most commonly accepted form of payment (increasing slightly from 91.0% in 2010 to 91.6% by 2021), followed by private insurance (increasing from 63.5% to 75.3%), Medicaid (increasing from 54.0% to 71.8%), and Medicare (increasing from 32.1% to 41.9%). The proportion of counties with a treatment facility that accepted Medicare as a form of payment also increased over the same study period from 41.2% to 53.8%, whereas the proportion of counties with a facility that accepted Medicaid as a form of payment increased from 53.5% to 67.1%. The proportion of Medicare beneficiaries with a treatment facility that accepted Medicare as a form of payment within a 15-minute driving time increased from 53.3% to 57.0%. The proportion of individuals with a treatment facility within a 15-minute driving time that accepted their respective form of payment was 73.2% for those with Medicaid, 69.8% for those with private insurance, and 71.4% for those with cash payment in 2021.
Conclusions and Relevance
Results of this study suggest that Medicare beneficiaries have less geographic accessibility to SUD treatment facilities given that acceptance of Medicare is low compared with other forms of payment. Policy makers need to consider increasing reimbursement rates and using additional incentives to encourage the acceptance of Medicare.