Effects of ACA expansion of dependent coverage on hospital-based care of young adults with early psychosis

Susan H. Busch, Ezra Golberstein, Howard H. Goldman, Christine Loveridge, Robert E. Drake, Ellen Meara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: Since 2010, the Affordable Care Act has required private health plans to extend dependent coverage to adults up to age 26. Because psychosis often begins in young adulthood, expanded private insurance benefits may affect early psychosis treatment. The authors examined changes in insurance coverage and hospital-based service use among young adults with psychosis before and after this change. Methods: The study included a national sample (2006-2013) of discharges and emergency department visits. Using a difference-in-differences study design, the authors compared changes in insurance coverage (measured as payer source), per capita admissions, and 30-day readmissions for psychosis before and after ACA dependent coverage expansion among targeted individuals (ages 20-25) and a comparison group (ages 27-29). Results: After dependent coverage expansion, hospitalization for psychosis among young adults was 5.8 percentage points more likely to be reimbursed by private insurance among the targeted age group (ages 20-25), compared with the slightly older age group (ages 27-29). Dependent coverage expansion was not associated with changes in overall insurance coverage, per capita admissions, or 30-day readmission for psychosis. Conclusions: Although dependent coverage expansion was unrelated to changes in use of hospital-based treatments for psychosis among young adults, care was more likely to be covered by private insurance, and coverage of these hospitalizations by public insurance decreased. This shift from public to private insurance may reduce public spending on young-adult treatments for early-episode psychosis but may leave young adults without coverage for rehabilitation services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1033
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Meara reports receipt of research support from the Six Foundation Collaborative (Commonwealth Fund, John A. Hartford Foundation, SCAN Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Peterson Center on Healthcare, and the Milbank Memorial Fund). The other authors report no financial relationships with commercial interests.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant R01MH106635 from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The authors gratefully acknowledge the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Healthcare Utilization Project data partners for facilitating access to the data used in this study. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of NIMH.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychiatric Association. All rights reserved.


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