Introduction: The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act established the Medicaid expansion, which incentivized states to expand their Medicaid programs to include individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. A significant population that stood to benefit from this health care expansion were Americans who suffer from a mental health disorder. This study was conducted to analyze the impact of Medicaid expansion on individuals with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Methods: This political commentary was based on statistics on mental health in the United States derived from research studies and publications from federal government agencies, such as the NIH and SAMHSA. Research articles were extracted from a systematic search on Google Scholar, and government data was obtained directly from government agencies’ publications. We analyzed changes in access to mental health care and mental health-related outcomes, comparing expansion states to non-expansion states in the years prior to and after Medicaid expansion.
Results: The adoption of the Medicaid expansion significantly increased the insurance rates and treatment rates for individuals with mental health or substance use disorders, when comparing expansion states to non-expansion states. Similarly, individuals with mental health or substance use disorders reported less mental health decline, fewer mental health sick days, and improved self-reported health following their state’s expansion of their Medicaid program. In 2017 when comparing the insurance rates among individuals with any mental illness, 16 of the 17 lowest-performing states had not expanded Medicaid.
Conclusion: Since its adoption in 2014, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has improved access to mental health care and mental health-related outcomes, when comparing expansion states to non-expansion states. Individuals with mental health or substance abuse disorders in non-expansion states would benefit from further expansion.
Recommended CitationBlazoski, Cameron and Maio, PharmD, MS, MSPH, Vittorio, "Medicaid Expansion’s Importance to Mental Health Care" (2021). Phase 1. Paper 9.