Demographic Analysis of Low-Income Adults without Dependent Children: Implications for the Expansion of Medicaid

Kelly Balistreri (PI)
Ohio Family Health Survey

A key feature of the new health reform law involves the expansion of Medicaid to previously ineligible populations. Low-income adults without dependent children compose a significant share of this newly eligible group, and are of particular interest to policy makers and health practitioners because they represent a large and diverse population which is uninsured at high rates and may have greater health needs than other uninsured groups. Yet, little is known regarding their health-related behaviors and health care needs. To fill this research gap, I propose to use the 2010 OFHS to generate a detailed demographic portrait of the health status, health risk behaviors, health care utilization and health insurance status of low-income childless adults, paying particular attention to those in early adulthood. Individuals in early adulthood are at the greatest risk of being uninsured, while at the same experiencing increasing health risk as the onset for a number of crucial health conditions continues to shift down the age spectrum. This foreshadows an alarming public health crisis that warrants the attention of researchers and policy makers. Drawing upon additional data sources (Census, Area Resource File) this project will estimate the level of individual and service-region level variation among childless adults in unmet need for health care in order to identify potential ‘hot spots’ of pent-up demand for health care services. This project also will assess unmet need among a comparable population who are currently eligible for Medicaid in order to assess the future health care utilization patterns of currently ineligible childless adults. Finally, to better predict how resources may need to be allocated and to better develop strategies for implementation of health information and outreach programs, this project will identity mutually exclusive classes of healthcare need, health risk behavior and healthcare utilization using latent class analysis.

Link to the report: