Research Finds Autism Prevalence Growing More Quickly Among Young Adults Compared With Older Adults
State Medicaid programs and other providers will need to learn more about the age distribution of autism among adults enrolled in Medicaid, in order to better serve them.
Although most autism-related research in the United States is focused on children, investigators have found that Medicaid is an essential health care coverage provider for adults with autism, especially as a growing number of youths with autism age into adulthood.
According to the investigators, the percentage of adults receiving autism services from Medicaid sharply increased between 2008 and 2012. A higher prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was observed among younger adults between the ages of 18 and 24 years during the 2008-2012 period. The prevalence of ASD was lowest among older adults between the ages of 41 and 64 years.
“These results underline the importance of identifying effective and efficient service delivery models within Medicaid to serve the growing number of adults with ASD," said lead author Whitney Schott, PhD, in a press release.
The investigators analyzed Medicaid administrative claims data from 2008 to 2012, including the population of adults with autism and a random sample of adults without autism. They also looked at individuals who were enrolled in Medicaid for at least 9 out of 12 months per year in order to get a better sense of true administrative prevalence.
“Little is known about the age composition of the adult population with autism,” Schott said in the release. “Our research provides key information about the distribution of autism across adult ages over the period 2008-2012, showing that prevalence is higher and growing more quickly among younger adults (ages 18-24) compared to older adults.”
Schott said that as more youths with autism age into adulthood, Medicaid will become increasingly important for continued services to integrate into the community, workplace, and economy. State Medicaid programs and other providers will need to learn more about the age distribution of autism among adults enrolled in Medicaid in order to better serve them, according to the study authors.
“These results underline the importance of identifying effective and efficient service delivery models within Medicaid to serve the growing number of adults with ASD,” Schott said.
Drexel Study: Medicaid and Adults on the Autism Spectrum [news release]. Drexel University; October 15, 2020. https://drexel.edu/now/archive/2020/October/Autism-Institute-Study-Adults-with-ASD-and-Medicaid/. Accessed October 22, 2020.