The research summary is a brief overview of interesting scholarly work.
The big idea
That’s what I’ve found through recent research conducted with two fellow health economists, Daniel S. Grossman and Barton Willage. And that was especially true for their mothers, who become 5% more likely to be in a stable marriage and experience a 5.8% decline. reduced stress levels. Mothers are also less likely to smoke cigarettes and drink heavily.
We figured this out by comparing the marriage rates, mental health problems and health behaviors of mothers whose children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, a joint state and federal effort to cover children of families with relatively modest incomes too high. for Medicaid eligibility, with mothers whose children are less eligible for these programs.
We also compared the employment status of mothers of low-income children who obtained eligibility for health insurance with those who did not.
why is it important
Some 4.3 million children under the age of 19, or 5.6% of all American children, did not have health insurance coverage in 2020 – the most recent data available. The Build Back Better Act proposed by President Joe Biden, currently stuck in the senatewould help fill this gap.
States set their own eligibility requirements for Medicaid and CHIP, and these thresholds vary widely. Eligibility generally depends on the age of the child, the number of people in the household and the income of the family. For example, in Oregon, a 3-year-old child in a family of three with an annual income of 33,000 USD would not qualify. That same child living in Wisconsin, however, would. And Wisconsin’s policies aren’t even the most generous in the country.
Previously, researchers have primarily measured the effectiveness of Medicaid and CHIP programs for children by evaluating direct effects related to their own health. Our study shows that access to government-provided health insurance coverage also affects a child’s household in a positive way.
One important reason: Previous research has shown that growing up in a stable home benefits a child cognitive development.
What is not yet known
Our review complements previous research suggesting that obtaining health insurance coverage through Medicaid and CHIP has long-term effects for children, for example through higher academic achievement. But how this happens remains unclear. In other words, are these children doing better in school because their health is generally better than it would have been – or something else?
Another question that remains is whether these patterns arise when people have access to other beneficial programs. For example, when children with special needs get the services they need, does this also benefit their parents? Or how does student loan forgiveness improve the lives of members of a household in addition to the person who owed the money?
We focused on mothers because maternal data was more readily available. In the future, we would like to do further research to see if the benefits for fathers of children who receive health insurance coverage through Medicaid and CHIP are similar to the boost that mothers receive.
[Over 150,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletters to understand the world. Sign up today.]