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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Minnesota Finds After ACA, Inpatient Psychiatric Care Rose and ER Psychiatric Care Dropped for Young Adults

A recent University of Minnesota School of Public Health study finds that the ACA’s 2010 young adult insurance expansion coincided with modest increases to inpatient mental health and inpatient substance abuse care visits, while emergency department use for these disorders declined. Young adults were also less likely to be uninsured when they did use these hospital-based services.

The findings are published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.


[Photo: Dr. Ezra Golberstein]

“Our research is one of the first evaluations of the ACA’s coverage expansions that focuses on health services utilization,” said Dr. Ezra Golberstein, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the School of Public Health. “Mental health and substance use disorders peak among young adults at a time in life when health insurance coverage is low. We found that the coverage expansion was associated with modestly higher inpatient use for these disorders, along with decreases in emergency department use.”

The study looked at national trends in inpatient use, trends in emergency department use in California between 2005 and 2011, and focused on the ACA’s dependent coverage provision that allowed adults to stay on parents’ insurance policies until age 26. The research team, which included colleagues at Yale University, Dartmouth College, and Harvard Medical School, compared trends in care for 19 to 25 year olds who were targeted by the ACA’s coverage expansion to trends for 26 to 29 year olds, who were not targeted by the ACA expansion.

Other key findings:

Dr. Golberstein added, “The fact that we see reductions in emergency department use strikes us a good thing, suggesting that young adults were able to access mental health and substance use services in non-emergency settings.”
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