Effects of parental public health insurance eligibility on parent and child health outcomes

Maithreyi Gopalan, Caitlin Mc Pherran Lombardi, Lindsey Rose Bullinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Many states expanded their Medicaid programs to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These expansions increased Medicaid coverage among low-income parents and their children. Whether these improvements in coverage and healthcare use lead to better health outcomes for parents and their children remains unanswered. We used longitudinal data on a large, nationally representative cohort of elementary-aged children from low-income households from 2010 to 2016. Using a difference-in-differences approach in state Medicaid policy decisions, we estimated the effect of the ACA Medicaid expansions on parent and child health. We found that parents’ self-reported health status improved significantly post-expansion in states that expanded Medicaid through the ACA by 4 percentage points (p < 0.05), a 4.7% improvement. We found no significant changes in children's use of routine doctor visits or parents’ assessment of their children's health status. We observed modest decreases in children's body mass index (BMI) of about 2% (p < 0.05), especially for girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101098
JournalEconomics and Human Biology
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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