The Impact of the Affordable Care Act Dependent Coverage Mandate on Maternal Labor Outcomes


The Affordable Care Act?s dependent coverage mandate increased the maximum age of health insurance dependency from 18 to 27. Previous research has found that the mandate caused young people to reduce their labor supply, increase consumption of health care goods, and increase investment in their own human capital. Our paper explores whether or not the cost burden of these activities caused a change in parents? labor decisions. In particular, we use NLSY79 data and a difference-in-differences strategy to compare the mothers of young people affected by the increased maximum age of dependency to mothers of young people not affected by the increase before and after the implementation of the mandate, treating the mandate as a shock to the cost of investing in one?s child. We find no significant labor response to the dependent coverage mandate among affected mothers, suggesting that the increased costs incurred by young people as a result of the mandate are either borne by the young people themselves, or absorbed by parents? savings, and that the investment opportunity is not salient enough to mothers to cause a labor response.