The Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Coverage, and Labor Market Outcomes
The papers in this session examine how ACA-related expansions of health insurance coverage affect labor market and related outcomes, including wages, receipt of disability benefits, labor supply, and leisure time. As these papers demonstrate, health insurance expansions initiated by health care reform have potentially far-reaching, diverse effects on individuals’ choices regarding work and leisure. In the first paper, the authors test whether the earliest Medicaid expansions under the ACA affected receipt of disability income, as well as other labor market outcomes among low-income adults. The findings suggest that early Medicaid expansions are associated with decreases in disability income receipt and increases in labor market participation, but there are no consistent effects on other labor market outcomes. The second paper tests similar hypotheses by comparing Medicaid-expansion-eligible individuals in states that expanded Medicaid to those states that did not. The study is based on a panel data set of the universe of U.S. tax records spanning 2005-2014. The authors plan to supplement these data with data from the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) to examine how the ACA affects the behavior of those in poor health. In the final paper, the authors estimate the effect of the ACA’s dependent care provision on time spent working; on time spent on activities other than working; and on wellbeing. Results suggest that the dependent care provision has reduced job-lock and increased young adults’ subjective well-being, enabling them to spend time on activities they view as more meaningful than those they did before insurance became available.