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How Obamacare changed the love lives of young adults

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It seems that each week, a new development about the Affordable Care Act calls into question the future of health care in the U.S. Such policy changes may also have much more far-reaching effects on Americans’ major life decisions.

I am an economist who studies the relationship between health insurance and major life choices. In a study published on Nov. 9, I looked at the 2010 enactment of the young adult provision of the ACA, which allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

According to my research, this provision has led young adults to delay decisions to start a family. Health insurance eligibility seemed to significantly influence choices women made about contraception, leading to a decrease in abortions as well as birth rates.

Family planning

To get a clear picture of how this provision affected women’s choices about family planning, I compared women from across the U.S. at ages affected by the provision before and after it was implemented, generally between the years 2006 and 2013, to a control group of slightly younger and slightly older women, who did not gain new eligibility.

My study drew on data from the American Community Survey, abortion surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Survey of Family Growth.

While other studies have found decreases in births associated with the provision, they did not examine why.

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After the young adult provision was enacted, the rate of babies born to women aged 20 to 25 fell by 10 percent, as compared to a control group of slightly older women.

But the drop in the birth rate does not appear to be due to an increase in abortions. When women between ages 20 and 24 were able to stay on their parents’ insurance, their rate of abortions fell by between 9 and 14 percent, compared to women not gaining such eligibility. Something else drives the decline in both births and abortions.

One important factor could affect the birth rate and number of abortions: contraceptive use. Women’s use of long-term hormonal birth control – like Depo-Provera shots and Nexplanon implants – increased by 68 percent, as compared to a control group of slightly younger and slightly older women, after the provision went into effect. (The jump appears large because previous use of this type of birth control was low.) This suggests women switched from less effective but less expensive contraceptive methods, like condoms, to more effective but more expensive ones.

Other major life decisions

Previous studies show that family planning isn’t the only major life decision affected by greater eligibility for insurance provided by the ACA.

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In earlier work, I considered whether people marry in order to obtain health insurance coverage.
Becoming a dependent on a spouse’s plan is one of the main channels to private health insurance coverage.

By allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plans, the provision facilitated an alternative source of health insurance coverage outside of marriage. I looked at whether each of the 1.4 million men and women aged 23 to 25 and 28 to 30 who were surveyed over 2008 to 2013 in the American Community Survey had married or divorced in the prior 12 months or was cohabiting with a partner.

The data showed that, by 2013, young adults aged 23 to 35 were nine percent less likely to have married, compared to a control group of slightly older people. This suggests that this provision may enable young adults to make marriage decisions without the added consideration of insurance coverage. This may allow them to search longer to find spouses who are better matches and form more stable marriages.

The data also showed a temporary spike in divorce following the enactment of the provision, as well as fewer people cohabiting.

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Other studies find additional ways this provision has affected the behavior of young people. For example, one study found that, in addition to working less, the provision decreased the time spent waiting for and receiving medical care. The extra time went into socializing and, to a lesser extent, education and job search.

Life paths

Taken together, these findings suggest that access to insurance allows young adults to better plan when to marry and when to have children.

In my view, people who do not need to take health insurance into account when deciding whether to get married are likely to ultimately enter into happier and better marriages. People who have more control over family planning have the ability to better invest in careers and education and to start families when they are ready.

The ConversationFuture changes to the ACA have the potential to further affect major life decisions of eligible individuals, for better or worse. It is important to consider these unintended consequences when evaluating changes to these policies.

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By Joelle Abramowitz, Assistant Research Scientist at the Survey Research Center, University of Michigan

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Sailing among the stars: Here’s how photons could revolutionize space flight

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A few days from now, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Florida, carrying a satellite the size of a loaf of bread with nothing to power it but a huge polyester "solar sail."

It's been the stuff of scientists' dreams for decades but has only very recently become a reality.

The idea might sounds crazy: propelling a craft through the vacuum of space with no engine, no fuel, and no solar panels, but instead harnessing the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons -- in this case from our Sun.

The spacecraft to be launched on Monday, called LightSail 2, was developed by the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration which was co-founded by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980.

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Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank

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Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.

The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.

Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.

Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.

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Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns

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Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.

In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.

The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.

"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."

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