The Effect of Public Health Insurance on Criminal Recidivism

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Forthcoming

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 19-19

88 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2019 Last revised: 3 Aug 2021

See all articles by Erkmen Giray Aslim

Erkmen Giray Aslim

Grand Valley State University - Seidman School of Business

Murat C. Mungan

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Carlos Navarro

Texas A&M University - Private Enterprise Research Center

Han Yu

Dalton State College

Date Written: February 19, 2020

Abstract

Mental health and substance use disorders are highly prevalent among incarcerated individuals. Many prisoners reenter the community without receiving any specialized treatment and return to prison with existing behavioral health problems. We consider a Beckerian law enforcement theory to identify different channels through which access to health care may impact ex-offenders' propensities to recidivate, and empirically estimate the effect of access to public health insurance on criminal recidivism. By exploiting variation in state Medicaid expansion decisions, we find that increased access to health care through Medicaid coverage reduces recidivism among offenders convicted of violent and public order crimes. The decomposition of recidivism rates shows that this reduction is driven by marginal recidivists who, but for Medicaid expansions, would be reconvicted for the type of crime for which they were previously convicted. Analyses of potential mechanisms show an increase in criminal justice referrals to addiction treatment, which may reduce impulsive behavior. Back-of-the-envelope calculations also indicate that there are substantial cost reductions from providing Medicaid coverage to former inmates.

Keywords: Medicaid, Recidivism, Affordable Care Act, Substance Use Disorder

JEL Classification: I15, K42

Suggested Citation

Aslim, Erkmen Giray and Mungan, Murat C. and Navarro, Carlos and Yu, Han, The Effect of Public Health Insurance on Criminal Recidivism (February 19, 2020). Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Forthcoming, George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 19-19, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3425457 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3425457

Erkmen Giray Aslim (Contact Author)

Grand Valley State University - Seidman School of Business ( email )

Grand Rapids, MI 49504
United States

Murat C. Mungan

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Carlos Navarro

Texas A&M University - Private Enterprise Research Center ( email )

College Station, TX
United States
9798453494 (Phone)
9798456636 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://perc.tamu.edu/

Han Yu

Dalton State College ( email )

Dalton, GA 30720
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hanyuecon.com

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