Medicaid Access in Brief: Adolescents’ Use of Behavioral Health Services

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January 2018

Behavioral health disorders—that is, mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD) combined—were one of the five costliest conditions affecting those age 17 and younger in 2012. Medicaid and CHIP were the largest payers for this care.

Medicaid, including Medicaid-expansion CHIP, must cover medically necessary mental health and SUD treatment services for children and adolescents as part of the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit. While separate CHIP programs are not required to cover behavioral health services, as of 2013, all covered some outpatient and inpatient mental health services, and nearly all covered some form of outpatient and inpatient SUD treatment.

This issue brief uses data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) to analyze the prevalence of certain behavioral health disorders and use of services by adolescents age 12-17, comparing those who are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP with those who have private insurance or who are uninsured.

Publication Type: Issue Briefs

Tags: access, behavioral health, children, CHIP, comparisons with other sources of coverage, Early and Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT), Medicaid, Separate CHIP, substance use, substance use treatment, uninsured