Early Affordable Care Act Medicaid: Coverage Effects for Low- and Moderate-Income Young Adults

J Adolesc Health. 2020 Sep;67(3):425-431. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.05.029. Epub 2020 Jul 3.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of early Medicaid expansions on young adults, who also benefitted from a private dependent coverage expansion.

Methods: We used the American Community Survey 2008-2013 to study three early expansion states-California, Connecticut, and Minnesota-using difference-in-differences. Control states are weighted combinations of other states and are similar to expansion states in the prepolicy periods. We analyze young adults and subgroups of women and men.

Results: Early Medicaid reduced uninsurance and improved public coverage among low- and moderate-income young adults beyond the private dependent coverage expansion, but results differed across states. California, which targeted up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), reduced uninsurance 1.3 percentage points (4.2% relative to mean) and increased public insurance by 1.4 percentage points (14.0%). Connecticut, which targeted up to 56 percent of FPL, had no change to uninsurance but a 5.4 percentage point (42.5%) increase in public coverage. Minnesota's programs (up to 75 and 250 percent of FPL) produced a 4.2 percentage point (21.9%) decline in uninsurance for their lowest income group, but no measurable changes for their moderate-income group. Young men benefitted more than women. Their uninsurance declined as much as 6.0 percentage points (25.0%, in Minnesota) and their public coverage increased up to 9.1 percentage points (61.5%, in Connecticut).

Conclusions: Medicaid expansion benefits young adults, even those with moderate incomes, and even following a private dependent expansion. Results were larger and concentrated among young men, who historically had little engagement with the program.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Connecticut
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Insurance, Health
  • Male
  • Medicaid*
  • Minnesota
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act*
  • United States
  • Young Adult