New economic research ties Medicaid expansion to lower crime rates and billions of dollars in “crime reduction benefits,” adding to the small body of empirical evidence on the effect of health care on criminal behavior.
Using state- and county-level data from FBI Uniform Crime Reports between 2010 and 2016, economist Qiwei He, of the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University, compared states with Medicaid expansions to those without, and found that access to health care decreased homicide by 7.7 percent; burglary rates by 3.6 percent; motor vehicle thefts by 10 percent; robbery by 6.1 percent; and aggravated assault by 2.7 percent.
According to the study, which was first published in late December and updated last week, Medicaid expansion saved states nearly $10 billion in one year.
The analysis was carried out concurrently with another investigation of Medicaid expansion and crime, covered in Oct 2017 by The Crime Report. While both studies conclude that access to health care reduces crime rates, He writes that his analysis shows a somewhat weaker effect.
According to He, “the statistically significant crime reduction effects of the Medicaid expansion on Burglary, motor vehicle theft, and robbery provide evidence that the Medicaid expansion is more likely to affect money-related crimes than other crimes.”
The full report, The Effect of Health Insurance on Crime Evidence from the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion, is available for free download on SSRN. This summary was prepared by Deputy Editor Victoria Mckenzie. She welcomes readers’ comments.