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Spillover Effects of the Affordable Care Act? Exploring the Impact on Young Adult Dental Insurance Coverage

Keywords: Affordable Care Act; dependent coverage mandate; dental insurance

Objectives: To assess whether the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) dependent coverage health insurance mandate had a spillover impact on young adult dental insurance coverage and whether any observed effects varied by household income.

Data: Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys from 2006 through 2011.

Study Design: We employed a difference-in-difference regression approach comparing changes in insurance rates for young adults ages 19–25 years to changes in insurance rates for adults ages 27–30 years. Separate regressions were estimated by categories of household income as a percentage of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to understand whether the mandate had heterogeneous spillover effects.

Results: Private dental insurance increased by 6.7 percentage points among young adults compared to a control group of 27–30-year olds. Increases were concentrated at middle-income levels (125–400 percent FPL).Conclusions: The dependent coverage mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act has not only increased health insurance rates among young adults but also dental insurance coverage rates.

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