HealthDay News — Expansion of Medicaid is associated with slowing of suicide rates among nonelderly adults, according to a study published online June 15 in JAMA Network Open.
Hetal Patel, M.D., from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues compared changes in suicide rates between states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act versus states that did not. The analysis included data from the National Center for Health Statistics for U.S. adults (aged 20 to 64 years) from 2000 through 2018.
The researchers identified 553,912 deaths by suicide during the study period, with most occurring in White (89.6 percent) and male (77.6 percent) individuals. In Medicaid expansion states, there were smaller increases seen in the suicide rate after 2014 compared with nonexpansion states (2.56 per 100,000 increase versus 3.10 per 100,000 increase). This significant decrease of −0.40 suicides per 100,000 individuals translates to 1,818 suicides that were averted from 2015 to 2018.
“Because this difference may be linked to increased access to mental health care, policy makers should consider suicide prevention as a benefit of expanding access to health care,” the authors write.