The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that publishes The Milbank Quarterly, commissions projects, and convenes state health policy decision makers on issues they identify as important to population health.
We focus on a number of topic areas identified by state health policy leaders as important to population health.
The Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University is a national leader in evidence-based decision making and policy design.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. Get the latest from thought leaders, including Christopher F. Koller, president of the Fund.
We publish The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to population health.
March 2018 (Volume 96)
March 2018 | Katherine Baicker, Heidi L. Allen, Bill J. Wright, Sarah L. Taubman, Amy N. Finkelstein | Original Investigation
Context: Expanding Medicaid to previously uninsured adults has been shown to increase detection and reduce the prevalence of depression, but the ways that Medicaid affects mental health care, how effectively it addresses unmet needs, and how those effects differ for those with and without a history of depression remain unclear.
Methods: We take advantage of Oregon’s Medicaid lottery to gauge the causal effects of Medicaid coverage using a randomized-controlled design, drawing on both primary and administrative data sources.
Findings: Medicaid coverage reduced the prevalence of undiagnosed depression by almost 50% and untreated depression by more than 60%. It increased use of medications frequently prescribed to treat depression and related mental health conditions and reduced the share of respondents reporting unmet mental health care needs by almost 40%. The share of respondents screening positive for depression dropped by 9.2 percentage points overall, and by 13.1 for those with preexisting depression diagnoses, with greatest relief in symptoms seen primarily in feeling down or hopeless, feeling tired, and trouble sleeping—consistent with the increase observed not just in medications targeting depression but also in those targeting sleep.
Conclusions: Medicaid coverage had significant effects on the diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of a population with substantial unmet mental health needs. Coverage increased access to care, reduced the prevalence of untreated and undiagnosed depression, and substantially improved the symptoms of depression. There are likely to be substantial mental health consequences of policy decisions about Medicaid coverage for vulnerable populations.
Keywords: Medicaid, insurance, depression, mental health.
Download the Study
Read on Wiley Online Library
Volume 96, Issue 1 (pages 836-883)
Published in 2018
States Protecting the Public Interest in the Era of Trump
Transformation of the Health Care Industry: Curb Your Enthusiasm?