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Access to Treatment for Depression in a Medicaid Population


Mentally ill Medicaid recipients represent a population that may be vulnerable to limited access to adequate treatment for their mental illness. In this study, depressed Medicaid recipients were compared with those with private insurance. Also examined were racial differences among the Medicaid recipients in the treatment of depression. It was found that in comparison with Medicaid patients, the privately insured patients who are treated with antidepressants are more likely to receive the newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) rather than the older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). In the Medicaid group, African Americans are more likely to receive TCAs than are white patients. Privately insured patients are more likely to receive psychotherapy than are Medicaid patients. There is a higher rate of continuous therapy on initial antidepressants in the privately insured group. Results suggest that depressed Medicaid recipients' access to quality mental health care is restricted. Also, among depressed Medicaid patients, there are racial differences with regard to depression treatment.