Child Medicaid Recipients Become Healthy, Productive Adults: Study

Child Medicaid Recipients Become Healthy, Productive Adults: Study

Child Medicaid Recipients Become Healthy, Productive Adults: Study

Public health insurance program for those with low incomes was expanded several decades ago

SOURCE: Yale University, news release, Jan. 12, 2015

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 14, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who received expanded Medicaid benefits as children contribute more in taxes, were more likely to attend college, and have a lower risk of premature death, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed the tax returns of nearly all people born in the United States between 1981 and 1984, to compare those from similar backgrounds who were eligible for Medicaid during childhood for different lengths of time.

Medicaid, created in 1965, is a public health insurance program for low-income people. There was a significant expansion of Medicaid coverage for children in the 1980s and 1990s.

The study authors found that for each additional dollar spent on Medicaid coverage for children, the federal government received 14 cents by the time the children reached age 28. If those higher tax payments continue, the federal government will get back 56 cents on each dollar spent on childhood Medicaid by the time the children reach age 60, the researchers said.

Children who received more years of Medicaid coverage made higher combined income and payroll tax payments as adults. Expanded Medicaid coverage during childhood also was associated with higher wages among women, according to the study.

"Although it will take years to know the long-term impact of current expansions of Medicaid undertaken as part of the Affordable Care Act, this study shows that the investments that the government made in Medicaid in the 1980s and 1990s are paying off in the form of higher tax payments now," study co-author Amanda Kowalski, an economist at Yale University, said in a university news release.

The study was released Jan. 12 as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.

More information

To learn more about Medicaid, visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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