The Effect of Child Health Insurance Access on Schooling: Evidence from Public Insurance Expansions

Source: Sarah Cohodes, Samuel A. Kleiner, Michael Lovenheim, Dan Grossman, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20178, May 2014
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From the abstract:
Public health insurance programs comprise a large share of federal and state government expenditure, and these programs are due to be expanded as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Despite a large literature on the effects of these programs on health care utilization and health outcomes, little prior work has examined the long-term effects of these programs and resultant health improvements on important outcomes, such as educational attainment. We contribute to filling this gap in the literature by examining the effects of the public insurance expansions among children in the 1980s and 1990s on their future educational attainment. Our findings indicate that expanding health insurance coverage for low-income children has large effects on high school completion, college attendance and college completion. These estimates are robust to only using federal Medicaid expansions, and they are mostly due to expansions that occur when the children are older (i.e., not newborns). We present suggestive evidence that better health is one of the mechanisms driving our results by showing that Medicaid eligibility when young translated into better teen health. Overall, our results indicate that the long-run benefits of public health insurance are substantial.