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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

LSU: Medicaid Utilization Before and After a Natural Disaster in the 2016 Baton Rouge-Area Flood

Dr. Stephen Phillippi, associate professor at Louisiana State University Health Science Center~School of Public Health, led this study to understand changes in behavioral health service utilization and expenditures before and after a natural disaster with an adult Medicaid population affected by the Baton Rouge area flood (August 2016). Dr. Phillippi and a research team examined de-identified behavioral health claims data for Medicaid insured adults in the affected region for ten months before and after flooding (October 2015–June 2017). These data included  273,233 provider claims for 22,196 individuals. Claims data included patient gender, behavioral health diagnoses, treatment dates, and costs. They made adjustments for Medicaid expansion by using monthly enrollment data. Expansion accounted for a  4 percent increase in claims.  Overall, most male patient behavioral health care visits were for substance use disorders (33.6 percent) and most female patient behavioral health care visits were for depression-related disorders (30 percent). Both diagnostic categories increased after the flood by 66 percent and 44 percent, respectively. Post-flood claims reflected 8 percent to 10 percent higher costs, after controlling for expansion. The team concluded behavioral health care services following natural disasters must be extended longer than traditionally expected, with consideration for specific population needs.

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