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Childhood Medicaid Coverage and Later Life Health Care Utilization

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Listed:
  • Laura R. Wherry
  • Sarah Miller
  • Robert Kaestner
  • Bruce D. Meyer

Abstract

Policy-makers have argued that providing public health insurance coverage to the uninsured lowers long-run costs by reducing the need for expensive hospitalizations and emergency department visits later in life. In this paper, we provide evidence for such a phenomenon by exploiting a legislated discontinuity in the cumulative number of years a child is eligible for Medicaid based on date of birth. We find that having more years of Medicaid eligibility in childhood is associated with fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits in adulthood for blacks. Our effects are particularly pronounced for hospitalizations and emergency department visits related to chronic illnesses and those of patients living in low-income neighborhoods. Furthermore, we find evidence suggesting that these effects are larger in states where the difference in the number of Medicaid-eligible years across the cutoff birthdate is greater. Calculations suggest that lower rates of hospitalizations and emergency department visits during one year in adulthood offset between 3 and 5 percent of the initial costs of expanding Medicaid.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura R. Wherry & Sarah Miller & Robert Kaestner & Bruce D. Meyer, 2015. "Childhood Medicaid Coverage and Later Life Health Care Utilization," NBER Working Papers 20929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20929
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
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    6. David Card & Lara D. Shore-Sheppard, 2004. "Using Discontinuous Eligibility Rules to Identify the Effects of the Federal Medicaid Expansions on Low-Income Children," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(3), pages 752-766, August.
    7. David W. Brown & Amanda E. Kowalski & Ithai Z. Lurie, 2015. "Medicaid as an Investment in Children: What is the Long-Term Impact on Tax Receipts"," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1979, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Laura R. Wherry & Bruce D. Meyer, 2016. "Saving Teens: Using a Policy Discontinuity to Estimate the Effects of Medicaid Eligibility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(3), pages 556-588.
    9. Sarah R. Cohodes & Daniel S. Grossman & Samuel A. Kleiner & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2016. "The Effect of Child Health Insurance Access on Schooling: Evidence from Public Insurance Expansions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(3), pages 727-759.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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