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Abstract

Long-term Individual and Population Consequences of Early-life Access to Health Insurance
Etienne Gaudette, Gwyn Pauley and Julie Zissimopoulos
WP 2016-355

Gaining access to health insurance in childhood has been associated with improved childhood health and educational attainment. Expansions in health insurance access have steadily lowered the rates of uninsured children and may have long term consequences for adult health and well being. This paper analyzes the impact of gaining health insurance in childhood on health and economic outcomes during adulthood using dynamic microsimulation. We find disease prevalence at age 65 falls for most chronic conditions, with the exception of cancer. We also find increased access to health insurance in childhood results in 11 additional months of life expectancy and 16 additional months lived free of disability. There is no change in total lifetime medical spending, although both Medicaid and Medicare expenditures fall. Lifetime earnings increase by about 8% for individuals who gain the benefits of childhood health insurance.

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