Purpose: This study estimates the rural-urban differences in outpatient service utilization and expenditures for depression, anxiety disorder, and substance use disorder, and the evolving mental health provider mix for privately insured US adults aged 18-64 during 2005-2018. Methods: We used the IBM MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database for individuals covered by employer-sponsored health insurance, from 2005 to 2018, with a yearly total number of beneficiaries ranging from 17.5 to 53.1 million. Claims for nonelderly adults with mental health and substance abuse coverage are included. Outcomes include rates of outpatient service utilization for depression, anxiety disorder, and substance use disorder; counts of outpatient visits; expenditure and share of the out-of-pocket cost; and the mental health services provider mix. Findings: Rural enrollees were less likely than urban enrollees to use outpatient mental health services for depression by 1.2% (percentage points) in 2005 and 0.6% in 2018. Among those who used outpatient mental health services, rural enrollees had fewer outpatient visits than their urban counterparts (difference: 1.8-2.4 visits for depression, 1.2-1.7 visits for anxiety disorder, and 0.7-2.1 visits for substance use disorder). Rural patients paid less per year for mental health outpatient visits of the 3 conditions but incurred a higher share of out-of-pocket expenses. Rural and urban patients differ in the mix of mental health providers, with rural enrollees relying more on primary care providers than urban enrollees. Conclusions: Rural-urban disparities in access to mental health services persist during 2005-2018 among a population with private insurance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health