Department or Program


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Courtney Coile

Additional Advisor(s)

Robin McKnight


This thesis examines whether access to medical health insurance improves the financial welfare of potentially accessibility-constrained population. Previous studies show that young adults aged 19 to 30 years are disproportionately uninsured compared to the U.S. non-elderly population aged 19 to 64 as a whole. Being uninsured exposes young adults to significant financial risk due to negative medical shocks. Starting in the 1990s, states have sought to address this issue by passing laws allowing adult children to remain on their parents' health insurance, and in 2010 the Affordable Care Act extended this coverage nationwide to dependents through age 26. Using individual level data, we examine how eligibility for health insurance under extended parental coverage laws affects the financial outcomes of adult dependents. We find a significant reduction in bankruptcy risk for young adults being eligible for the health insurance. We conclude that these laws have a positively causal effect on the financial welfare of young adults.