NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Impacts of the Affordable Care Act Dependent Coverage Provision on Health-Related Outcomes of Young Adults

Silvia Barbaresco, Charles J. Courtemanche, Yanling Qi

NBER Working Paper No. 20148
Issued in May 2014
NBER Program(s):   HC   HE

The first major insurance expansion of the Affordable Care Act – a provision requiring insurers to allow dependents to remain on parents’ health insurance until turning 26 – took effect in September 2010. We estimate this mandate’s impacts on numerous health-related outcomes using a difference-in-differences approach with 23-25 year olds as the treatment group and 27-29 year olds as the control group. For the full sample, the dependent coverage provision increased the probabilities of having insurance, a primary care doctor, and excellent self-assessed health, while decreasing unmet medical needs because of cost. However, we find no evidence of improvements in preventive care utilization or health behaviors. Subsample analyses reveal particularly striking gains for college graduates, including reduced obesity. Finally, we show that the mandate’s impacts on 19-22 year olds were generally weaker than those on 23-25 year olds, although we observe a reduction in pregnancies for unmarried 19-22 year old women.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20148

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