Research conducted by a Missouri school shows the Affordable Care Act is helping people with less money meet their housing costs.

Emily Gallagher, Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington University – Photo courtesy of Washington University

The study reveals people in low and moderate income brackets who have the healthcare coverage are more likely to make their rent or mortgage payments than those who remain uninsured.

The finding is based on data from roughly 5,000 tax filers who live in 18 states that did not expand Medicaid in the past two years.

Emily Gallagher with Washington University in St. Louis, which conducted the research, says the coverage was especially beneficial for those experiencing major medical events.

“The people who experience a medical shock, their medical spending is lower if they have access to the Obamacare subsidized insurance than if they didn’t” said Gallagher.  “And that is what’s likely translating into a better ability to make their rent.”

Gallagher notes housing plays an outsize role in the lives of those with less money.  “There’s been a lot of research that predates our study that shows that housing instability leads to a lot of negative effects on child development outcomes, on mental health outcomes.”

The study was conducted in states without Medicaid expansion because they have what’s commonly called “the coverage gap”.  In those locations, many adults earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to be eligible for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The research showed low income people with coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and who reside in the states failing to expand Medicaid, are 15 percent less likely to be delinquent with their home payments.

Gallagher says housing instability can adversely impact those with less money.  “Not being able to pay your rent can cause you to have to leave your apartment, have to move to a new apartment, maybe in a new neighborhood, pull your kids out of school.  And all these have well documented negative effects.”

With the subsidies provided to low income people by the Affordable Care Act, a 30 year-old single adult who earns just over the poverty line, about $12,000, would pay $20 a month for health insurance, versus $265 without the coverage.  Gallagher says the same person, if covered by the Affordable Care Act, would be subject to pay about a third of the maximum out of pocket expenses.

Gallagher actually credits the states that chose not to expand Medicaid with giving researchers like her the opportunity to gauge the success rate of the Affordable Care Act for low income people.  “It created two groups of people, some with access to affordable insurance, and some without, that we can compare.”

Missouri is one of the states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid.