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PHS Monday Seminar: Sebastian Tello-Trillo, PhD “Losing insurance and behavioral healthcare: Evidence from a large-scale Medicaid disenrollment”

November 8, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics
Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
University of Virginia
Affiliate, National Bureau of Economic Research

We study the effects of losing insurance on behavioral health – defined as mental health disorder (MHD) and substance use disorder (SUD) – community hospitalizations in the United States.  Such hospitalizations are a common and important modality of healthcare for individuals with MHDs and SUDs, reflecting nearly 20% of all behavioral healthcare services received in the U.S.  We leverage variation in public insurance coverage eligibility offered by a large-scale and unexpected disenrollment in the state of Tennessee in 2005 that lead to 190,000 individuals lose their insurance.  Following the disenrollment, behavioral healthcare hospitalizations did not change.  Instead, hospitalization financing was altered, but with heterogeneity across MHDs and SUDs.  MHD hospitalization financing was partially shifted to other forms of insurance while SUD financing was transferred entirely to patients.  We are the first to document these findings which have implications for optimal insurance design and addressing behavioral health needs.

My name is Sebastian Tello-Trillo, I am an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). My fields of specialization are Health Economics and Applied Microeconomics. I have interest in the areas of health policy in the U.S and Latin America. I am an editor the ASHEcon Newsletter and enjoy participating in different mentoring programs such as the Research in Color Foundation. With Aparna Soni and Jevay Grooms, I founded the DMV Health Econ Workshop day, which is scheduled to have its first iteration in Fall 2021. With Alex Hollingsworth, I am the co-host of the podcast “The Hidden Curriculum”, a podcast on topics of productivity in the economics profession.

View a copy of Dr. Tello-Trillo’s CV here.


November 8, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm