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The sensitivity of substance abuse treatment intensity to co-payment levels

  • Anthony T. Lo SassoEmail author
  • John S. Lyons
Regular Articles

Abstract

This study exploits variation in co-payment levels among different contractual arrangements within a regional managed behavioral health care organization to estimate the relationship between co-payment levels for substance use treatment services and the intensity of substance use treatment. The substance use treatment benefits involved a range of co-payment levels across nearly 400 employers during the years 1993 through 1998. Multiple regression techniques were used to estimate the effect of co-payment levels on treatment intensity. The results indicate that co-payment levels had a significant negative effect on outpatient and inpatient substance use treatment. For outpatient treatment the effect on intensity implied a co-payment elasticity of −0.18, implying that moving from a $10 co-payment to a $20 co-payment would result in, for example, a reduction from 5 to 4 outpatient visits per episode. However, the effect was larger for persons with combined alcohol and drug use disorders, as they exhibited a co-payment elasticity of −0.27. For inpatient days, the co-payment elasticity was considerably smaller at −0.017. Given the benefits of maintaining persons with substance use disorders in treatment, employers may have an incentive to take steps to minimize the barriers to treatment.

Keywords

Substance Abuse Health Promotion Disease Prevention Behavioral Health Regression Technique 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Policy ResearchNorthwestern UniversityEvanston
  2. 2.the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciencethe Northwestern University Medical SchoolChicago

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