Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Young Adult’s Health Insurance, Employment, and Education: A Three-Essay Dissertation

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA) Public Law No: 111-148, substantially changed health insurance access in the United States. One group that the law particularly affects

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA) Public Law No: 111-148, substantially changed health insurance access in the United States. One group that the law particularly affects is young adults, defined as individuals between the ages of 19 to 26. Specifically, the expansion of young adult dependent coverage was one of the first provisions that went into effect after the ACA’s enactment. This dissertation comprehensively studies the impact of the ACA’s dependent coverage provision on young adults. Across three empirical chapters, the dissertation examines outcomes related to health insurance coverage, labor market outcomes, and educational enrollment. Chapter 1, titled “Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Young Adults Insurance Coverage,” documents the changes in health insurance take-up for the young adults population, which has historically had the lowest rates of such coverage. Changes in coverage are also evaluated separately for sub-groups of young adults. Chapter 2, titled “Labor Market Outcomes for Young Adults,” evaluates whether the law altered employment decisions and earnings for this group. It also assess whether the ACA led to increased job mobility for young adults. Finally, Chapter 3, titled “Does having Dependent Coverage from the ACA impact Educational Enrollment,” evaluated changes in educational enrollment levels for young adults following the expansion of parental dependent coverage. The research conducted in this dissertation provides evidence of the ACA’s impact on health insurance coverage, employment, and education. It also provides support for the claim that the ACA covers insurance gaps that young adults might experience as they go through life transitions when they are likely to lose coverage.