New Study Documents Positive Long-Term Effects of Medicaid Coverage

A new study from the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Research on Poverty provides further evidence that the Medicaid expansions in the 1980s and 1990s have positive long-term effects for children. The IRP study, conducted by researchers from the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, found that expanding Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women improves the economic outcomes of low-income children.

In their report “Medicaid and Intergenerational Economic Mobility”, the authors found that children born to low-income parents covered by Medicaid in the 1980s and 1990s experienced positive economic mobility in adulthood. The authors conclude: “early exposure to health insurance is a key policy lever for improving the physical and financial condition of individuals and for reducing inequalities in life chances.”

This study adds to a growing body of research demonstrating the long-term effects of expanding Medicaid eligibility to children. Improving access to health insurance for low-income children not only leads to better health outcomes in the short-term, but also leads to better health outcomes in the long-term, lower rates of mortality, improved educational outcomes, and government savings in the long-term. States that have yet to expand Medicaid to low-income adults should consider the mounting evidence of the positive effects of eligibility expansions for children.

Alisa Chester is a Research Associate at the Center for Children and Families

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