CHA News Article

New Study Explores Children’s Behavioral Health Services in Medicaid

A recently published 50-state analysis shows that, while less than 10 percent of children enrolled in Medicaid use behavioral health care, it accounts for 38 percent of program expenses. The Center for Health Care Strategies, a nonprofit health policy organization, published Faces of Medicaid: Examining Children’s Behavioral Health Service Utilization and Expenditures last month. The report examines patterns of behavioral health service use and expense for children in Medicaid in an effort to inform state efforts for improving care.

The report also finds:

  • Children in foster care and on SSI/disability represent one-third of the Medicaid child population using behavioral health care, but 56 percent of total behavioral health services costs;
  • Children using residential treatment/therapeutic group care represent under four percent of children in Medicaid using behavioral health services, but account for 19 percent of total behavioral health expenses; and
  • Almost 50 percent of children enrolled in Medicaid who are prescribed psychotropic medication receive no identifiable behavioral health treatment.