Childhood Medicaid Coverage and Later Life Health Care Utilization

54 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2015 Last revised: 10 Feb 2015

See all articles by Laura Wherry

Laura Wherry

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - David Geffen School of Medicine

Sarah Miller

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Robert Kaestner

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Bruce D. Meyer

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2015

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

Wherry, Laura and Miller, Sarah and Kaestner, Robert and Meyer, Bruce D., Childhood Medicaid Coverage and Later Life Health Care Utilization (February 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20929. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2562200

Laura Wherry (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - David Geffen School of Medicine ( email )

1000 Veteran Avenue Box 956939
Los Angeles, CA 90095-6939
United States

Sarah Miller

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mille/

Robert Kaestner

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

Bruce D. Meyer

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
(773) 702-2712 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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