Importance: Rates of occupational therapy service utilization among people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability (ID) have not been explored in population-based samples.
Objective: To describe occupational therapy services delivered to Medicaid-eligible persons younger than age 65 yr identified as having ASD, ID, or both and to evaluate demographic factors associated with occupational therapy service utilization in this population.
Design: Retrospective, case–control, cohort study using claims records from Medicaid Analytic eXtract files (2009–2012).
Setting: Data from all 50 states and Washington, DC.
Participants: Beneficiaries identified as having ASD only, ASD+ID, or ID only who were younger than age 18 yr (N = 664,214) and ages 18–64 yr (N = 702,338).
Outcomes and Measures: We analyzed Current Procedural Terminology® and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System procedure codes, Medicaid Statistical Information System type of service codes, and Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services provider specialty codes.
Results: Only 3.7% to 6.3% of eligible adult beneficiaries received occupational therapy; in contrast, 20.5% to 24.2% of children received occupational therapy. Significant predictors of service use varied by group; however, differences by race–ethnicity, eligibility on the basis of poverty, and geographic location were observed. Among children, the most frequent billing code was for “therapeutic activities” (43%–60%); among adults, it was “community/work reintegration training” (29%–39%).
Conclusions and Relevance: Billed procedure code patterns do not consistently reflect the unique occupational focus that occupational therapy providers deliver to people with developmental disabilities. Disparities in occupational therapy receipt warrant further attention to understand the social and structural factors affecting service delivery.
What This Article Adds: Occupational therapy services paid for by Medicaid are used more frequently by children with ASD and ID than by adults with these diagnoses. Greater understanding of the intersectional factors that drive service delivery and disparities is needed.