Getting health insurance in America is intimately connected to choosing whether and where to work. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the U.S. health insurance market may influence, and be influenced by, the market for higher education—which itself is closely tied to the labor market. In this post, and the staff report it is based on, we investigate the effects of the largest overhaul of health insurance in the U.S. in recent decades—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) — on college enrollment choices.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is arguably the biggest policy intervention in health insurance in the United States since the passage of Medicaid and Medicare in 1965. The Act was signed into law in March 2010, and by 2016 approximately 20 to 24 million additional Americans were covered with health insurance. Such an extension of insurance coverage could affect not only medical bills, but also educational, employment, and broader financial outcomes. In this post, we take an initial look at the relationship between the ACA and higher education financing choices and outcomes. We find evidence that expansions in healthcare coverage may influence both the prevalence of student loans and loan repayment behavior. The evidence suggests that individuals covered by ACA-related expansions are taking out slightly more loans and taking a longer time to start repayment.