The effect of public health insurance expansions on the mental and behavioral health of girls and boys

Sarah Hamersma, Jinqi Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of public health insurance expansions on the mental health care utilization and mental and behavioral health of children 6–17 years old. We leverage major expansions in public health insurance eligibility for children and adolescents under Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program during 1997–2002 to examine mental health care utilization and outcomes for children in the National Survey of America's Families. The study examines these dynamics by gender of children due to their distinct mental health care patterns and risks. The expansions are associated with an estimated 30% reduction in mental health care utilization for girls, but no measurable effect for boys, which may partly be accounted for by increased well-child visits for girls. Mental health improves only for teenagers; boys in particular have an estimated 22 percent increase in their probability of the highest level of health. Parents experience spillovers of lower insurance coverage for themselves – likely from dropping private family coverage for public child-only coverage – but slightly better mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113998
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume280
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Gender differences
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Public health insurance
  • SCHIP and Medicaid thresholds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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