Medicaid Kids Given Antipsychotics 4X More
Seen as most effective treatment; counseling often goes by wayside
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2009 6:30 AM CST
Updated Dec 12, 2009 7:30 AM CST
Antipsychotic drugs are prescribed four times more for Medicaid kids than they are for their middle-class counterparts.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(Newser) – Kids on Medicaid rolls are prescribed antipsychotic drugs at an eye-popping rate four times that of kids with private insurance, federal data show, underlining how pills rather than counseling are often seen as the most efficient way to deal with underprivileged children. And not only are Medicaid kids receiving more drugs than their middle-class counterparts, the New York Times reports, but often for less severe conditions.

The ramifications are far-reaching: Not only are Medicaid children affected by long-term side-effects of the drugs, both psychological and physical, but antipsychotics represent the system's biggest expense—a staggering $7.9 billion in 2006. And health reform that would expand Medicaid rolls by an estimated 43% would likely only exacerbate the problem, the Times notes.