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Lopoo study on health insurance and human capital published in Jour of Health Politics, Policy & Law

Nov 30, 2018

Health Insurance and Human Capital: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act’s Dependent Coverage Mandate

Leonard M. Lopoo, Emily B. Cardon & Kerri M. Raissian

Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, November 2018

Leonard Lopoo headshot

Leonard M. Lopoo

Prior to 2010, young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 had the highest rates of uninsurance in America. The “Dependent Care Provision” of the Affordable Care Act sought to increase insurance rates among young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents' policy until age 26. The authors examine the human capital decisions young adults make once they have an option for health insurance outside of employer-sponsored health insurance.

Using the American Community Survey from 2001 to 2016 and a difference-in-differences research design, they found that the implementation of the mandate was associated with a 3–5 percent increase in college enrollment among women 23–25 years of age. This result is robust to a variety of specifications. The authors did not find a consistent effect among men. Their results suggest that increased flexibility in health insurance markets has implications for human capital investment.