Data proves that Medicaid needs work requirements

Rea S. Hederman Jr. and Andrew J. Kidd, Ph.D. Dec 04, 2018

This opinion piece appeared in The Hill.

Lost in the current debate over imposing “work requirements” for Medicaid eligibility has been how such requirements might actually benefit recipients and what “work-free Medicaid” actually costs them. It is time for states to reassess those true costs and benefits.

When the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) added healthy, able-bodied adults without dependent children to the list of beneficiaries, policymakers overlooked the substantial price paid by these recipients who, as the Congressional Budget Office once forecasted, forego hourly wages and earnings in order to maintain their Medicaid eligibility. Without a work requirement for able-bodied adults to receive Medicaid, studies have shown that the program tacitly encourages such recipients to stay home and not go to work. And, as it turns out, Medicaid’s non-work incentive has some not-so-healthy consequences.

In Healthy and Working: Benefits of Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients, we explain that healthy and single Medicaid recipients working less than 20 hours per week, afraid to work more at the risk of losing their benefits, may actually sacrifice hundreds of thousands of dollars in earnings over their lifetime — more than $212,000 for women and more than $323,000 for men. We even found that those who would start on Medicaid but continue to work until they leave the Medicaid program altogether stand to earn nearly a million dollars more over their working years than if they had limited their work and simply remained on Medicaid. 

Continuing Reading…