How Have ACA Insurance Expansions Affected Health Outcomes? Findings from the Literature
A growing body of literature examining the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on nonelderly adults provides promising evidence of improvements in health outcomes through insurance expansions. Our review of forty-three studies that employed a quasi-experimental research design found encouraging evidence of improvements in health status, chronic disease, maternal and neonatal health, and mortality, with some findings corroborated by multiple studies. Some studies further suggested that the beneficial effects have grown over time and thus may continue to grow if the ACA insurance expansions remain in force. However, not all studies reported a significant positive relationship between ACA provisions that expanded insurance coverage and health status. We highlight the challenges facing researchers, including the importance of nonmedical factors in determining individual health and the use of outcome data predominantly drawn from self-reports. In closing, we identify opportunities to enhance researchers' understanding of the relationship between the ACA insurance expansions and health outcomes using new data sources, including electronic health records.