Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women

JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol, 104, No. 6 (December 1996)

Posted: 19 May 1998

See all articles by Janet Currie

Janet Currie

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Jonathan Gruber

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

We provide direct evidence on the effect of health insurance on health outcomes by examining the dramatic increases in the eligibility of pregnant women for the Medicaid program between 1979 and 1992. We find that the 30-percentage-point rise in Medicaid eligibility significantly lowered the incidence of low birth weight and infant mortality. Targeted changes in Medicaid eligibility that were restricted to specific low-income groups had much larger effects on birth outcomes than broader expansions of eligibility to women with higher income levels because of much lower take-up of this entitlement by the latter group. Even the targeted changes cost the Medicaid program $840,000 per infant life saved, however, raising important issues of cost effectiveness.

JEL Classification: I12, I18

Suggested Citation

Currie, Janet and Gruber, Jonathan, Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women. JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol, 104, No. 6 (December 1996). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=5061

Janet Currie

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
6092587393 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.princeton.edu/~jcurrie

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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

Jonathan Gruber (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-355
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-8892 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://web.mit.edu/gruberj/www/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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