SAMHSA study examines the implications of state participation in Medicaid expansion for uninsured individuals with behavioral health conditions

November 17, 2015

This report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates the ACA could provide expanded access to behavioral healthcare for 5.3 million low-income, uninsured people who need substance abuse or mental health treatment. These people are eligible for this treatment through the expansion of Medicaid benefits – if they live in states that participate in the Medicaid expansion program. The report indicates that 50.8% live in states that have chosen to participate in this program. Therefore, these people will likely gain coverage. However, 49.2% of low income, uninsured people in need of behavioral healthcare may not be able to access the Medicaid expansion benefits because they live in states that have either decided not to participate in expansion, or remain undecided about participating in it. Other findings include:

  • Among the individuals with a behavioral health disorder who were eligible for Medicaid expansion, 33.9% lived in a non-Medicaid expansion state, and 15.3% lived in an undecided state;
  • Among the 3.8 million individuals with any mental illness who were eligible for Medicaid expansion, 33.5% lived in a non-Medicaid expansion state, and 16.2% lived in an undecided state; and
  • Among the 2.4 million individuals with a substance use disorder who were eligible for Medicaid expansion, 34.1% lived in a non-Medicaid expansion state, and 13.6% lived in an undecided state.