Medicaid Expansion Increased Coverage Improved Affordability And Reduced Psychological Distress For Low-Income Parents
Author: Stacey McMorrow, Jason A. Gates, Sharon K. Long, Genevieve M. Kenney
Despite receiving less attention than their childless counterparts, low-income parents also experienced significant expansions of Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We used data for the period 2010–15 from the National Health Interview Survey to examine the impacts of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion on coverage, access and use, affordability, and health status for low-income parents. We found that eligibility expansions increased coverage, reduced problems paying medical bills, and reduced severe psychological distress. We found only limited evidence of increased use of care among parents in states with the smallest expansions, and no significant effects of the expansions on general health status or problems affording prescription drugs or mental health care. Together, our results suggest that the improvements in mental health status may be driven by reduced stress associated with improved financial security from insurance coverage. We also found large missed opportunities for low-income parents in states that did not expand Medicaid: If these states had expanded Medicaid, uninsurance rates for low-income parents would have fallen by an additional 28 percent.