Report

Most children enrolled in Medicaid are from low-income households and many are served by multiple public programs, putting them at risk for receiving fragmented or inappropriate care. This risk is even higher for children in Medicaid with behavioral health needs, who often experience poor health outcomes at high costs.

To help states uncover opportunities to improve care for these children, the Center for Health Care Strategies analyzed behavioral health care use and expense for children in Medicaid in all 50 states. This report presents the complete study findings and methodology for this national analysis, which also examines specific topics/populations, including psychotropic medication use, children in foster care, and children with developmental disabilities. Key findings from the analysis are highlighted in an issue brief, which suggests opportunities for state policymakers and other stakeholders to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for children in Medicaid with serious behavioral health needs. For more resources, go to the CHCS website

December 21, 2013

In This Report, You’ll Learn

  1. 1

    Overall patterns of behavioral health care use and expense among children in Medicaid.

  2. 2

    Differences in behavioral health service use and expense among children in various age groups and other factors.

  3. 3

    The specific behavioral health service types used by children in Medicaid and the related expenses.

  4. 4

    Patterns of psychotropic medication use and expense among children in Medicaid.

  1. 5

    Physical health vs. behavioral health service use and expense among children in Medicaid.

  2. 6

    Differences in service use and expense for children with developmental disabilities compared to other children in Medicaid.

Key Takeaway

Opportunities Exist to Improve Children’s Behavioral Health Care

By examining patterns of behavioral health care use and expense in their own Medicaid programs, compared to the national baseline presented in this study, states can work toward targeted improvements in behavioral health care access, quality, and cost-effectiveness.  

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations