U Researcher finds that marriage legalization saw lower Medicaid use

by Ellen Schmidt

A University of Minnesota researcher published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reporting the New York Marriage Equality Act leads to lower enrollments in Medicaid for same-sex couples because more people are now choosing to receive health insurance through their spouse’s employer.


The study was published on Friday, when the U.S. Supreme Court made the decision to recognize same-sex marriage nationwide.


States that recognize same-sex marriage require some workplaces to offer employer-sponsored health insurance for employees and their spouses, which could be implemented nationwide, according to a University HealthTalk blog.


With the implementation of same-sex marriage in New York, the number of people using employee-sponsored insurance increased, and the number of people using Medicaid decreased, the study said.


“This study takes advantage of data from New York, the largest state to legalize gay marriage without appeal, to document changes in health insurance coverage for adults in same-sex relationships compared to adults in opposite-sex relationships after the implementation of the New York Marriage Equality Act,” said Gilbert Gonzales, a doctoral candidate from the University’s School of Public Health and lead on the study.

The legalization of gay marriage nationwide may lead to a decrease in the number of homosexual adults on public health insurance plans, like Medicaid, because same-sex couples may no longer be eligible for the plans, the study said.