Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 1057–1064 | Cite as

Healthcare Service Use and Costs for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comparison Between Medicaid and Private Insurance

  • Li WangEmail author
  • David S. Mandell
  • Lindsay Lawer
  • Zuleyha Cidav
  • Douglas L. Leslie
Original Paper


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.


Autism spectrum disorder Children Healthcare costs Service use Medicaid Private insurance 



This study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health through an R01 awarded to Dr. Leslie.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Li Wang
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • David S. Mandell
    • 2
  • Lindsay Lawer
    • 3
  • Zuleyha Cidav
    • 3
  • Douglas L. Leslie
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Public Health Sciences, College of MedicinePennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, College of MedicinePennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  5. 5.Penn State College of Medicine Public Health SciencesHersheyUSA

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