Background Paper

Medicare and Mental Health: The Fundamentals
November 27, 2006


Christopher W. Loftis, PhD & Eileen Salinsky


This background paper provides a review of mental health coverage in the Medicare program. It examines the prevalence of mental disorders among Medicare beneficiaries, treatment available through Medicare, and the cost of such treatment. A brief summary of relevant policy issues is provided, including Medicare’s outpatient mental health limitation and the potential effect of the prescription drug benefit on the provision of mental health services.

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