Health Care and the Financial Wellbeing of Low-Income Families

Awarded Scholars:
Sarah Miller, University of Michigan
Robert Kaestner, University of Illinois, Chicago
Bhashkar Mazumder, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Project Date:
Mar 2016
Award Amount:
Project Programs:
Co-funded Research
The Social, Economic and Political Effects of the Affordable Care Act

Findings: Health Care and the Financial Wellbeing of Low Income Families; Robert Kaestner, University of Illinois, Chicago; Bhashkar Mazumder, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; and Sarah Miller, University of Michigan

Co-funded with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

A fundamental purpose of health insurance is to reduce the financial uncertainty associated with illness and injury. For families without insurance, the onset of illness is associated with treatment expenses that are often substantial. These costs force some consumers to make critical choices about how to reallocate their financial resources to balance their urgent requirement for medical care with their ongoing consumption needs. The financial burden imposed by illness not only affects individuals’ ability to maintain health, but also affects their overall standard of living. The ACA’s Medicaid expansion was expected to improve the financial situation of the uninsured, particularly those with low incomes.

Using a new dataset of individual credit reports linked with individual-level data on enrollment and utilization in the Healthy Michigan program (the state’s Medicaid expansion) linked to individual credit reports from TransUnion, Miller and her colleagues will analyze the effect of the Medicaid expansions on many financial outcomes, ranging from late payments and type and levels of debt to bankruptcy and foreclosures. They will also examine how these effects vary across populations with different health needs or subject to different types of cost sharing under the ACA.


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