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Economics and Services Research

We conduct health services and economics research to evaluate how health and social policies affect populations with mental illness and substance use disorder. We examine trends in health care use and how federal, state and local policies influence health care utilization, health outcomes and other important social indicators.

Featured Recent Research

Effects of State Policy Responses to the U.S. Overdose Crisis

Center faculty have conducted several studies focused on evaluating state responses to the worsening overdose crisis. Faculty have used econometrics and health services research methods to examine the effects of a wide variety of policies, including efforts to expand insurance coverage for substance use disorder treatment, policies to change child welfare reporting practices, and opioid prescribing policies. 

Effects of High Deductible Insurance Plans

High deductible health plans, which expose consumers to high out-of-pocket costs, have been identified as a method to get consumers more involved in health care decision making. Many worry that deductibles are too high and that consumers will make short-term decisions in the face of increased costs. Center faculty working in this area have advanced knowledge by estimating the effect of firms offering a HDHPS on substance use disorder and mental health services. These studies find that offering an HDHP was associated with reductions in the use of ambulatory services and medication treatment as well as large reductions in family spending. While our work shows decreases in medication use, we add nuance by showing that, conditional on starting buprenorphine treatment, HDHPs do not decrease the length of treatment episodes. We show that when mental health and substance use disorder co-occur, spending reductions are completely driven by decreases in psychotropics and SUD medication.

Measuring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Patterns

Center faculty are conducting multiple studies seeking to measure mental health and substance use treatment services use as well as overall health care use among key populations, including individuals with carceral involvement, individuals engaged in medication for opioid use disorder treatment, individuals with chronic pain and individuals with psychological distress.


Effect of Medicaid Health Homes for Persons with Serious Mental Illness

As part of the Affordable Care Act, states had the opportunity to create Medicaid health home programs to improve mental health and somatic health care coordination for populations with serious mental illness. State Medicaid health homes varied widely in scope, administration and structure. Center faculty have examined the effects of Maryland’s health home program and find that enrollment in the program is associated with reductions in emergency department visits, increases in outpatient mental health visits, improved follow up after hospitalization but minimal effects of quality of cardiovascular care and inpatient services use.