Untreated Maternal Mental Health Conditions in Texas: Costs to Society and to Medicaid

Untreated Maternal Mental Health Conditions in Texas: Costs to Society and to Medicaid

Published: Mar 05, 2021
Publisher: Mathematica

Caroline Margiotta

Jessica Gao

So O'Neil

Key Findings
  • The total societal cost of untreated maternal mental health conditions (MMHCs) was $2.2 billion for 2019 births, when following Texas mother-child pairs from conception to 5 years postpartum. The cost for Medicaid-covered births was $962 million.
  • The greatest maternal costs were associated with productivity losses and non-obstetric health expenditures, while the greatest child costs were associated with behavioral and developmental disorders and preterm births.
  • We found substantial disparities in the prevalence and cost of MMHCs among women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, demonstrating that BIPOC women are both more likely to have an untreated MMHC and more likely to experience adverse health and societal outcomes.
  • Providing better screening and earlier intervention for groups disproportionately impacted by MMHCs could lead to better long-term outcomes and cost savings to society.

Maternal mental health conditions (MMHCs), which include depression and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and through five years post-delivery, are common among mothers in Texas and across the United States. These conditions can have a devastating impact on maternal-child bonding, breastfeeding initiation, maternal health and productivity, and child development and health later in life. Despite their impacts, these medical conditions often go undiagnosed and untreated. Recognizing a need for attention in this area, the Texas legislature directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to release a strategic plan to address postpartum depression in September 2020. To further inform this and other efforts to address MMHCs in Texas, this issue brief describes the findings from a new mathematical model that quantifies the monetary costs of untreated MMHCs to society and to Medicaid in Texas. The estimated total monetary cost of untreated MMHCs from conception through five years post-delivery in Texas is $2.2 billion, but this monetary cost does not fully capture the human costs of MMHCs.

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