Medicaid's EPSDT Benefit: An Opportunity to Improve Pediatric Screening for Social Determinants of Health

Med Care Res Rev. 2021 Apr;78(2):87-102. doi: 10.1177/1077558719874211. Epub 2019 Sep 15.


The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit is a key component of Medicaid policy intended to define an essential set of services provided to patients younger than age 21. Given increasing attention to social determinants of health in pediatric health care, this qualitative review examines the extent to which EPSDT might be used to implement structured screening to identify environmental and social factors affecting children's health. Themes derived from semistructured interviews conducted in 2017 were triangulated with a review of the recent literature to describe how states currently consider the EPSDT benefit with respect to social determinants of health screening. Our findings suggest that, with sufficient stakeholder advocacy given the evidence supporting social determinants of health screening as "medically necessary," EPSDT benefits could be considered as a funding source to incentivize the incorporation of social determinants of health screening into the basic package of well-child care.

Keywords: EPSDT; Medicaid; disparities; health policy; pediatrics; social determinants of health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Health Services*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Medicaid*
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • United States
  • Young Adult