Drs. Li Wang and Douglas Leslie of Pennsylvania State College of Medicine used Medicaid data from 42 states from 2000 to 2003 to evaluate costs for patients of autism spectrum disorders age 17 and under who were continuously enrolled in fee-for-service Medicaid.
The expenditures included Medicaid reimbursements from inpatient, outpatient and long-term care, as well as prescription drugs, for each treated patient.
Compared to children and teens with other mental disorders, treating autism was more costly. Total healthcare expenditures for autism spectrum disorders per 10,000 grew by 32.8 percent from in 2000 to 2003.
The rapid rise in the Medicaid expenditures for autism spectrum disorders was largely due to the increase of cases than an increase in per patient expenditures, the researchers say.
The study is scheduled to be published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.