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Did Medicaid Expansion Reduce Medical Divorce?


  • David Slusky
  • Donna Ginther


Medical divorce occurs when couples divorce so that one spouse’s medical bills do not deplete the assets of the healthy spouse. We develop a model of medical divorce that demonstrates that divorce is optimal when a couple’s joint assets exceed the exempted asset level. We use the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion which removed asset tests to qualify for Medicaid as exogenous variation in the incidence of divorce. We find that the ACA expansion decreased the prevalence of divorce by 11.6% among those ages 50-64 with a college degree. Our results suggest that Medicaid expansion reduced medical divorce.

Suggested Citation

  • David Slusky & Donna Ginther, 2017. "Did Medicaid Expansion Reduce Medical Divorce?," NBER Working Papers 23139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23139
    Note: AG HC HE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Luojia Hu & Robert Kaestner & Bhashkar Mazumder & Sarah Miller & Ashley Wong, 2016. "The Effect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansions on Financial Wellbeing," NBER Working Papers 22170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Pinka Chatterji & Yue Li, 2016. "Early Effects of the 2010 Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansions on Federal Disability Program Participation," NBER Working Papers 22531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Rina Na & David J.G. Slusky, 2016. "Does The Aca’S Medicaid Expansion Improve Health?," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 201608, University of Kansas, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2016.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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