Three-Year Impacts Of The Affordable Care Act: Improved Medical Care And Health Among Low-Income Adults

Health Aff (Millwood). 2017 Jun 1;36(6):1119-1128. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0293. Epub 2017 May 17.


Major policy uncertainty continues to surround the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at both the state and federal levels. We assessed changes in health care use and self-reported health after three years of the ACA's coverage expansion, using survey data collected from low-income adults through the end of 2016 in three states: Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid; Arkansas, which expanded private insurance to low-income adults using the federal Marketplace; and Texas, which did not expand coverage. We used a difference-in-differences model with a control group and an instrumental variables model to provide individual-level estimates of the effects of gaining insurance. By the end of 2016 the uninsurance rate in the two expansion states had dropped by more than 20 percentage points relative to the nonexpansion state. For uninsured people gaining coverage, this change was associated with a 41-percentage-point increase in having a usual source of care, a $337 reduction in annual out-of-pocket spending, significant increases in preventive health visits and glucose testing, and a 23-percentage-point increase in "excellent" self-reported health. Among adults with chronic conditions, we found improvements in affordability of care, regular care for those conditions, medication adherence, and self-reported health.

Keywords: Access To Care; Health Reform; Insurance Coverage < Insurance; Medicaid.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / trends
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medically Uninsured / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act*
  • Poverty
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • United States