Insurance expansions and adolescent use of substance use disorder treatment

Sarah Hamersma, Johanna Catherine Maclean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To provide evidence on the effects of expansions to private and public insurance programs on adolescent specialty substance use disorder (SUD) treatment use. Data Source/Study Setting: The Treatment Episodes Data Set (TEDS), 1996 to 2017. Study Design: A quasi-experimental difference-in-differences design using observational data. Data Collection: The TEDS provides administrative data on admissions to specialty SUD treatment. Principal Findings: Expansions of laws that compel private insurers to cover SUD treatment services at parity with general health care increase adolescent admissions by 26% (P <.05). These increases are driven by nonintensive outpatient admissions, the most common treatment episodes, which rise by 30% (P <.05) postparity law. In contrast, increases in income eligibility for public insurance targeting those 6-18 years old are not statistically associated with SUD treatment. Conclusions: Private insurance expansions allow more adolescents to receive SUD treatment, while public insurance income eligibility expansions do not appear to influence adolescent SUD treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-267
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Services Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • adolescents
  • health care
  • parity laws
  • public insurance
  • substance use disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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