Among the Affordable Care Act’s many benefits, it’s common knowledge that it has reduced significantly the number of uninsured in America, in part by expanding Medicaid. What you may not know is that in states that opted to expand Medicaid, the ACA has also kept more married couples together. New research suggests that states that opted not to expand Medicaid not only have a higher rate of uninsured residents but also have a higher rate of medical divorces.
What’s a medical divorce? It’s a practical decision to divorce one’s spouse in order to secure affordable health care without going completely broke. With a medical divorce, one partner with costly health care needs is forced to divorce his or her spouse in order to qualify for Medicaid without spending down all of their collective assets.
A new NBER paper reveals that the Affordable Care Act appears to have reduced medical divorces in states that took advantage of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. In those states, there is no longer a Medicaid asset test for people under 65 . In other words, married people with costly health care needs do not have to separate assets from their spouses’ assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.
In comparing divorce rates in states that expanded Medicaid and states that did not expand Medicaid, the researchers found that almost six percent (5.6%) fewer people between the ages of 50 and 64 divorced in states with Medicaid expansion.
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