Long-term Effect of Public Health Insurance on Criminal Behavior

Monday, June 24, 2019: 2:15 PM
Truman - Mezzanine Level (Marriott Wardman Park Hotel)

Presenter: Yaa Akosa Antwi

Discussant: Aparna Soni

The goal of expanding public health insurance programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is to provide complete or partially subsidized health insurance coverage to low-income individuals and people with disabilities. In 2016, the Medicaid program cost federal and state governments $565.5 billion. Direct and short-term benefits of public health insurance include access to medical care and reduced exposure to out-of-pocket-medical cost. There are also long-term benefits beyond healthcare utilization and reduced financial burden. Access to public insurance in childhood improves adult health, reduces mortality in adulthood, and increases educational attainment. Individuals who are eligible for public health insurance in childhood are also less reliant on government safety net programs such as earn income tax credit and pay higher taxes. In this paper, we study the long-term effect of access to public health insurance on criminal behavior. Preliminary results suggests that those who benefitted from public health insurance as children are less likely to interact with the criminal justice system. This research is important because policymakers have become sensitive to the large and growing cost of medical care in general and the Medicaid program specifically. For instance, some state governors have cited fiscal prudence as a reason for not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Such decisions likely do not account for long-term benefits of the program. Results from this research could be useful for future decisions about Medicaid expansions.