The Impact of Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansions on Applications to Federal Disability Programs

Publisher: Forum for Health Economics & Policy (online ahead of print)
Feb 23, 2019
Priyanka Anand, Jody Schimmel Hyde, Maggie Colby, and Paul O’Leary
In this paper, we estimate the impact of Medicaid expansions via the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on applications to federal disability programs in 14 states that expanded Medicaid in January 2014. We use a difference-in-differences regression model to compare disability application rates in geographic areas within states that expanded Medicaid to rates in areas of non-expansion states that were carefully selected using a matching approach that accounts for state Medicaid policies pre-ACA as well as demographic and socioeconomic characteristics that might influence disability application rates. We find a slower decrease in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application rates after Medicaid expansions in expansion states relative to non-expansion states, with application rates declining in both state groups from 2014 through 2016. Our analysis of the impact of the Medicaid expansions on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application rates was inconclusive for reasons we discuss in the paper.