Twelve-month Diagnosed Prevalence of Behavioral Health Disorders among Elderly Medicare and Medicaid Members

Student Author(s)

Yat (Gary) Hung Leung

UMMS Affiliation

Center for Health Policy and Research

Publication Date


Document Type



Geriatrics | Health Services Research | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Objectives: We examined the 12-month diagnosed prevalence of behavioral health disorders (BHDs) and dementia among elderly Medicare and Medicaid members in Massachusetts by primary payment source group (dual eligible, Medicare only, and Medicaid only) and age group (65-74 years, 75-84 years, and 85 years and older).

Design: A retrospective cross-sectional study.

Setting: Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Participants: Massachusetts Medicare or Medicaid enrollees age 65 and older as of January 1, 2005, (N = 679,182).

Measurements: International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis codes recorded on Medicare and Medicaid claims were used to identify the BHDs.

Results: The 12-month diagnosed prevalence was 19.4% for any BHD and 11.2% for dementia. The most common BHDs by disease category were major depression (severe mental illness [SMI]), other depression (other mental illness [OMI]), and alcohol abuse or dependence (subtance use disorder [SUD]). Dual eligibles had a considerably higher diagnosed prevalence of any BHD (38.8%), compared with 16.1% in the Medicare only group. The 12-month diagnosed prevalence of SMI, OMI, and dementia was higher in the older-age groups. Co-occurring SUD was higher for younger dual eligibiles. Dementia and mental illness co-occurred at much higher rates for dual eligibles than for either of the single-insurance groups. This combination increased with age in all three groups.

Conclusions: The 12-month prevalence of BHDs and dementia among elderly dual eligibles was disproportionately higher than other elderly Medicare or Medicaid members. However, access barriers to behavioral health services for this vulnerable population could be significant because Medicare and Medicaid payment limitations resulted in financial disincentives for providing these services.

Copyright (C) 2011 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry

DOI of Published Version



Lin W, Zhang J, Clark RE and Leung G. Twelve-month Diagnosed Prevalence of Behavioral Health Disorders among Elderly Medicare and Medicaid Members. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Published Ahead-of-Print November 25, 2010. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3182011b66. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry