A Bayesian Two-Part Latent Class Model for Longitudinal Medical Expenditure Data: Assessing the Impact of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity

Authors

  • Brian Neelon,

    Corresponding author
    1. Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, U.S.A.
      email: brian.neelon@duke.edu
    Search for more papers by this author
  • A. James O'Malley,

    1. Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sharon-Lise T. Normand

    1. Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, U.S.A.
    2. Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author

email: brian.neelon@duke.edu

Abstract

Summary In 2001, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management required all health plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to offer mental health and substance abuse benefits on par with general medical benefits. The initial evaluation found that, on average, parity did not result in either large spending increases or increased service use over the four-year observational period. However, some groups of enrollees may have benefited from parity more than others. To address this question, we propose a Bayesian two-part latent class model to characterize the effect of parity on mental health use and expenditures. Within each class, we fit a two-part random effects model to separately model the probability of mental health or substance abuse use and mean spending trajectories among those having used services. The regression coefficients and random effect covariances vary across classes, thus permitting class-varying correlation structures between the two components of the model. Our analysis identified three classes of subjects: a group of low spenders that tended to be male, had relatively rare use of services, and decreased their spending pattern over time; a group of moderate spenders, primarily female, that had an increase in both use and mean spending after the introduction of parity; and a group of high spenders that tended to have chronic service use and constant spending patterns. By examining the joint 95% highest probability density regions of expected changes in use and spending for each class, we confirmed that parity had an impact only on the moderate spender class.

Ancillary