Children With Health Insurance More Likely To Finish High School, Earn Bachelor's Degree


Children with health insurance are more likely to finish high school, enroll in college and earn a bachelor's degree, according to a recent study Inside Higher Ed reported.

Researchers from Harvard and Cornell Universities found that a 10 percentage point increase in average Medicaid eligibility for those between the ages of 0 and 17 leads to a decrease of 0.5 of a percentage point in the high school dropout rate for the population. It also leads to an increase in college enrollment of between 0.7 to 1.0 of a percentage point, and in bachelor's degree attainment of 0.9 to 1 percentage point. 

"These estimates translate into declines in high school non-completion of about 5 percent, increases in college attendance of between 1.0 percent and 1.5 percent and increases in B.A. attainment of about 3.3 percent - 3.7 percent relative to the sample means," researchers said in the study.

For the study, researchers used Medicaid expansions of the 1980s and 1990s that expanded the share of children in the United States with health insurance and tracked the impact on those who became eligible as children.

Researchers said that despite a large literature on the effects of these programs on health care utilization and health outcomes, little prior work has examined the long-term effects of these programs and resultant health improvements on important outcomes, such as educational attainment.

"We contribute to filling this gap in the literature by examining the effects of the public insurance expansions among children in the 1980s and 1990s on their future educational attainment," researchers said. "Our findings indicate that expanding health insurance coverage for low-income children has large effects on high school completion, college attendance and college completion." 

Researchers note" the relevance of their findings to the expanded coverage many children may be receiving under the Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010," Inside Higher Ed reported.

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