Children on Medicaid often misdiagnosed with mental illness

There's a direct relationship between children using Medicaid and current and present mental health problems, according to recent federal drug research.

Recent federal drug research found a direct relationship between children using Medicaid and current and present mental health problems. Indeed, according to articles in World of Psychology and The New York Times, Medicaid children have nearly twice the number of mental-health episodes and get four times more prescribed anti-psychotic medications.

According to The New York Times, there is a viable disparity, “Children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows.”

According to reports, fewer psychiatrists take Medicaid payments; meaning family physicians most often prescribe anti-psychotic. The articles point out that this means frequent misdiagnosis and mistreatment of conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder.

The problem is simple - there are fewer psychiatrists who take Medicaid payments (which are lower than what private insurance generally pays), so most of these antipsychotic medications are being prescribed by family physicians or pediatricians who simply don’t know better (or think they’re helping when they’re really not). As the article notes, “it is often a pediatrician or family doctor who prescribes an antipsychotic to a Medicaid patient - whether because the parent wants it or the doctor believes there are few other options.”“’The FDA has approved antipsychotic drugs for children specifically to treat schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder,” The New York Times comments. “But they are more frequently prescribed to children for other, less extreme conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, aggression, persistent defiance, or other so-called conduct disorders - especially when the children are covered by Medicaid, the new study shows.”

World of Psychology points out a straight-forward solution, “Psychiatrists (and related professionals who have prescribing privileges in psychiatry or mental health) are the experts when it comes to choosing the right medication for the right patient. That’s what they’re trained for, and that’s what they excel at. When we come to rely on other generalist professionals, we’re bound to get care that - while well-intended - is likely not the best available.

“Children, of all people, certainly deserve the best available care, provided by the best professionals to provide it. And children - because their brains are still developing and we have zero long-term studies done on children and these medications - should turn to medications as only one possible solution to these mental health concerns.”