Did Medicaid Expansion Reduce Medical Divorce?

45 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2017 Last revised: 23 Sep 2022

See all articles by David Slusky

David Slusky

University of Kansas; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Donna K. Ginther

University of Kansas - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2017

Abstract

Medical divorce occurs when couples split up so that one spouse’s medical bills do not deplete the assets of the healthy spouse. It has not been studied in the economics literature, but it has been discussed by attorneys and widely reported in the media. 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 (as it was only implemented by some states). We find that the ACA expansion decreased the prevalence of divorce by 11.6% among those ages 50–64 with a college degree. These results are robust to numerous placebo checks including older subsamples (who qualify for Medicare regardless of assets) and earlier years (before the expansion was implemented). Our results suggest that Medicaid expansion reduced medical divorce.

Suggested Citation

Slusky, David and Ginther, Donna K., Did Medicaid Expansion Reduce Medical Divorce? (February 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23139, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2915966

David Slusky (Contact Author)

University of Kansas ( email )

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Lawrence, KS 66045-7585
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Donna K. Ginther

University of Kansas - Department of Economics ( email )

1300 Sunnyside Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045-7585
United States

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