Healthcare Service Use and Costs for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comparison Between Medicaid and Private Insurance
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Healthcare costs and service use for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were compared between Medicaid and private insurance, using 2003 insurance claims data in 24 states. In terms of costs and service use per child with ASD, Medicaid had higher total healthcare costs ($22,653 vs. $5,254), higher ASD-specific costs ($7,438 vs. $928), higher psychotropic medication costs($1,468 vs. $875), more speech therapy visits (13.0 vs. 3.6 visits), more occupational/physical therapy visits (6.4 vs. 0.9 visits), and more behavior modification/social skills visits (3.8 vs. 1.1 visits) than private insurance (all p < 0.0001). In multivariate analysis, being enrolled in Medicaid had the largest effect on costs, after controlling for other variables. The findings emphasize the need for continued efforts to improve private insurance coverage of autism.