A Welfare Analysis of Medicaid and Crime

39 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2022 Last revised: 26 Apr 2022

See all articles by Erkmen Giray Aslim

Erkmen Giray Aslim

Grand Valley State University - Seidman School of Business

Murat C. Mungan

Texas A&M University School of Law

Han Yu

University of Memphis

Date Written: April 10, 2022


We calculate conservative estimates for the marginal value of public funds (MVPF) associated with providing Medicaid to inmates exiting prison. Our MVPF estimates, which measure the ratio between the benefits associated with the policy (measured in terms of willingness to pay) and its costs net of fiscal externalities, range between 3.44 and 10.61. A large proportion of the benefits that we account for are related to the reduced future criminal involvement of exiting inmates who receive Medicaid. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that Medicaid expansions reduce the average number of times a released inmate is reimprisoned within a year by about 11.5%. We use this estimate along with key values reported elsewhere (e.g., victimization costs, data on victimization and incarceration) to calculate specific benefits from the policy. These include reduced criminal harm due to reductions in reoffenses; direct benefits to former inmates from receiving Medicaid; increased employment; and reduced loss of liberty due to fewer future reimprisonments. Net-costs consist of the cost of providing Medicaid net of changes in the governmental cost of imprisonment; changes in the tax revenue due to increased employment; and changes in spending on other public assistance programs. We interpret our estimates as being conservative, because we err on the side of under-estimating benefits and over-estimating costs when data on specific items are imprecise or incomplete. Our findings are largely consistent with others in the sparse literature investigating the crime-related welfare impacts of Medicaid access, and suggest that public health insurance programs can deliver sizeable indirect benefits from reduced crime in addition to their direct health-related benefits.

Funding Information: None to declare.

Declaration of Interests: None to declare.

Keywords: Medicaid, Crime, Affordable Care Act, MVPF

JEL Classification: I13, K42

Suggested Citation

Aslim, Erkmen Giray and Mungan, Murat C. and Yu, Han, A Welfare Analysis of Medicaid and Crime (April 10, 2022). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 22-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4080361 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4080361

Erkmen Giray Aslim

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

Grand Rapids, MI 49504
United States

Murat C. Mungan (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX Tarrant County 76102
United States

Han Yu

University of Memphis

The University of Memphis
Department of Economics
Memphis, TN TN 38152
United States

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

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