Medicaid and Financial Health

October 2017
Kenneth Brevoort, Daniel Grodzicki, Martin B. Hackmann

This paper investigates the effects of the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on households' financial health. Our findings indicate that, in addition to reducing the incidence of unpaid medical bills, the reform provided substantial indirect financial benefits to households. Using a nationally representative panel of 5 million credit records, we find that the expansion reduced unpaid medical bills sent to collection by $3.4 billion in its first two years, prevented new delinquencies, and improved credit scores. Using data on credit offers and pricing, we document that improvements in households' financial health led to better terms for available credit valued at $250 million per year. We calculated that the financial benefits of Medicaid double when considering these indirect benefits in addition to the direct reduction in out-of-pocket expenditures.