Did the Dependent Coverage Mandate Reduce Crime?

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The Affordable Care Act’s dependent coverage mandate (DCM) induced approximately 2 million young adults to join parental employer-sponsored health insurance plans. This study is the first to explore the impact of the DCM on crime, a potentially important externality. Using data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System, we find that the DCM induced a 2–5 percent reduction in property crime incidents involving young adult arrestees ages 22–25 relative to those ages 27–29. This finding is supported by supplemental analysis using data from the Uniform Crime Reports. An examination of the underlying mechanisms suggests that declines in large out-of-pocket expenditures for health care, increased educational attainment, and increases in cohabitation of parents and adult children may explain these declines in crime. Backof- the-envelope calculations suggest that the DCM generated approximately $371–$512 million in annual social benefits from crime reduction among young adults.

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