Effects of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion on Subjective Well-Being in the US Adult Population, 2010-2016

Am J Public Health. 2019 Sep;109(9):1236-1242. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305164. Epub 2019 Jul 18.


Objectives. To determine whether the 2014 Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion affected well-being in the low-income and general adult US populations.Methods. We obtained data from adults aged 18 to 64 years in the nationally representative Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index from 2010 to 2016 (n = 1 674 953). We used a difference-in-differences analysis to compare access to and difficulty affording health care and subjective well-being outcomes (happiness, sadness, worry, stress, and life satisfaction) before and after Medicaid expansion in states that did and did not expand Medicaid.Results. Access to health care increased, and difficulty affording health care declined following the Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion was not associated with changes to emotional states or life satisfaction over the study period in either the low-income population who newly gained health insurance or in the general adult population as a spillover effect of the policy change.Conclusions. Although the public health benefits of the Medicaid expansion are increasingly apparent, improved population well-being does not appear to be among them.Public Health Implications. Subjective well-being indicators may not be informative enough to evaluate the public health impact of expanded health insurance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medicaid
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Health
  • Quality of Life
  • United States / epidemiology