Panel Paper: State Children's Health Insurance Program As Education Policy: The Effects of Expanded Health Insurance On Academic Achievement

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 12:10 PM
Scott (Westin Georgetown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Walker A. Swain, Vanderbilt University
A small but increasing number of schools and districts are investing in school-based medical clinics, based on the theory that addressing the healthcare needs of students will facilitate their success academically. The logic is simple. Poor students’ treatable health problems, like asthma or hearing and vision impairment pose serious obstacles to their regular attendance and full participation in the learning environment.  However, empirical evidence of the academic benefits of large-scale health interventions remains sparse. In this study, we exploit the overlap between the administration of a nationally representative longitudinal survey (ECLS-K) and the radical expansion of youth health coverage implementation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to examine the effects of a health policy intervention on student’s academic success. Two-stage least squared (2SLS) estimates indicate that, controlling for state and year fixed effects and a range of school and student level covariates, health improvements associated with gaining health insurance resulted in statistically significant improvements in attendance and scores on standardized math tests. Estimated effects for reading are also positive, though not significant. These findings imply that a broader approach to education policy that uses public resources to improve children’s health can be effective in elevating student achievement.