Reducing repeat use of costly inpatient services, such as inpatient withdrawal management, among Medicaid members is a target of healthcare reform. However, characteristics of frequent users of inpatient withdrawal management are understudied. We described the characteristics, service utilization, and costs of New York Medicaid clients who use withdrawal management services by analyzing data from Medicaid records from 2008. We examined follow-up care for individuals with different levels of repeat withdrawal management. We found 32,196 Medicaid withdrawal management patients with a total of 67,073 episodes and we divided patients into low (1 episode, n = 19,602), medium (2-3 episodes, n = 8619) and high (≥4 episodes, n = 3978) use categories. High users had almost 8 times the withdrawal management cost of low users. Similarly, they had 5 times more emergency department visits than low users. High users had high levels of homelessness (75%), 20% had HIV/AIDS, and 40% had Hepatitis. High withdrawal management users were less likely than low users to receive any follow-up treatment services. Medicaid clients with high utilization of inpatient withdrawal management are a small but costly population with poor follow-up rates to subsequent treatment services. They are a socially disenfranchised group that may benefit from targeted services to address their complex clinical needs.
J Subst Abuse Treat. 2018 Sep. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2018.06.013.