271772 Healthcare expenditures for autism during times of transition: Disadvantaged families fall behind

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 9:10 AM - 9:30 AM

Kathleen Thomas, PhD , Program on Mental Health Services Research, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Susan Parish, MSW, PhD , Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Christianna Williams, PhD , Cecil G Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Research Objective: Families raising children with autism often experience difficulties accessing services, but there is limited evidence to position these experiences in time as they relate to critical childhood milestones. This study explores the association between school transition and healthcare expenditures to identify when difficulties with access are likely to occur. Study Design: Pooled Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data from 2000 through 2009 provide a national sample of families raising children with autism (n=318). First, a cross section design is used to assess if transition is associated with access to care. Then, two-year panel data are used to assess the association of transition with a change in access. Access is measured with total and family out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures. Transition is a dichotomous measure identifying families with a child in a period of school transition. Ordinary least squares models estimate the association of transition and expenditures, controlling for other predisposing, enabling and need characteristics of the child and family. Interactions with measures of disadvantage (minority, high impairment) assess transition experiences for these families. Findings: Preliminary findings indicate children from minority families or with high impairment experience reduced total healthcare expenditures during times of transition (-$3,700, p<0.05 and -$4,000, p<0.01). Children who are not disadvantaged benefit from increased family out-of-pocket expenditures ($700, p<0.01 and $600, p<0.05) during times of transition. Implications: Knowing when disadvantaged children with autism are most at risk can inform policies to support better continuity of care for these children.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the association between school transition and expenditures for healthcare services for children with autism. Describe how disadvantaged and other families adjust their out of pocket expenditures for their children with autism during transition. Discuss potential policy interventions that might address disruptions of school transition for children with autism.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have participated in all phases of this research from study design, to interpretation of analyses and synthesis of findings. I bring expertise in autism services research to this study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.