One side effect of the ACA? Fewer evictions.
A lack of health insurance isn’t only a problem that threatens your health. It also puts you at a much greater risk of losing your home.
A new study examined the impact of the Affordable Care Act on delinquent mortgage or rent payments and found that the availability of subsidized insurance for low-income people significantly reduced their chances of eviction or foreclosure.
The analysis, led by Emily Gallagher, a finance professor at Washington University in St. Louis, along with researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, showed a 25 percent decline in delinquent housing payments among those near the poverty level who purchased insurance through the ACA marketplace.
The analysis specifically focused on the 22 states that did not initially participate in the federally funded Medicaid expansion. In states that expanded Medicaid, those up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level became eligible for the public health program, but in states that did not expand, people in that income range had to purchase health plans through the ACA marketplace.
The problem is, the ACA marketplace only provided subsidies to those at 100 percent FPL. People with even lower incomes often remained ineligible for Medicaid if they lived in non-expansion states, since many states sharply restrict Medicaid access to adults–particularly childless adults. This population fell into what has been called the “coverage gap.”
The study found that those who were eligible for ACA subsidies were far more likely to have health coverage than those below 100 percent FPL, even if their incomes were only slightly higher.
“Among households targeted by the policy (i.e., that lack employer plans), the effect is large: a 46 percent increase in the rate of non-group private insurance coverage at the subsidy threshold,” writes Gallagher.
So why are those with health insurance less likely to be delinquent on home payments? Put simply, they have more money to pay rent because they’re spending less on health care. “The subsidy policy is associated with an average decline in spending of $1,054 per household,” writes Gallagher.