Are Medicaid Coverage Gaps Associated with Higher Health Care Resource Utilization and Costs in Patients with Schizophrenia?

Abstract [from journal]

The objective was to assess the association of Medicaid coverage gaps with health care resource utilization (HRU) and costs of patients with schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia were identified from the Medicaid database. The beginning of the first eligible gap was defined as the index date. Per-patient per-month (PPPM) HRU and costs before versus after a gap were assessed, and the association between gap duration and PPPM HRU and costs was examined up to 12 months post index. Together with 95% confidence intervals, HRU differences were reported in rate ratios (RRs), and cost differences were reported in 2016 US dollars. A subgroup of males with substance use disorder (SUD; risk factors for incarceration) also was analyzed. Total PPPM health care costs increased significantly by $711.04 following a coverage gap (P < 0.001). Gaps of 180-365 days were associated with a significant increase in inpatient visits (RR = 1.27; P < 0.001) relative to gaps of <90 days. Gaps of 90-179 days were associated with significantly more PPPM inpatient visits (RR = 1.14; P = 0.024) relative to a gap of <90 days. Inpatient costs were particularly increased for gaps of 180-365 days versus those of <90 days (cost difference = $101.81 PPPM; P = 0.0008). Similar results were found in male patients with SUD, in whom HRU and cost differences appeared larger. In patients with schizophrenia, longer Medicaid coverage gaps were associated with increases in inpatient admissions, emergency room visits, and inpatient costs, particularly among patients with risk factors for incarceration. These results support policies that aim to facilitate Medicaid reinstatement for patients with schizophrenia.