Can State EITCs Help Low-Wealth Families Improve Health Outcomes?
June 07, 2012
The escalating cost of health care is a concern for many families, particularly for low-wealth working families who tend to be uninsured or under-insured. What if the connection between low-incomes and poor health outcomes could be broken by expanding the largest anti-poverty tools available in the United States: the Earned Income Tax Credit?
A recent report from the Carsey Institute, "The Effects of State EITC Expansion on Children's Health" by Reagan A. Baughman shows a number of health improvements in 14 states between 1990 and 2006 after a state EITC was adopted, providing a tax credit that further maximizes low-wage working families' incomes. Some of the outcomes presented in the report include:
- Reduction in public health insurance like Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Programs and an increase in private insurance coverage, showing that low-income working families were able to move from public coverage to owning their own insurance.
- Increase in children visiting doctors and dentists.
- Increase in the number of children reported by their mothers as being in excellent health.
- Children in nonmetropolitan areas experienced much larger reductions in obesity than their urban-dwelling peers.
Of the 22 states and 3 other areas offering EITC, only Louisiana in the Mid South currently offers the state tax credit. In Arkansas, our partner, Arkansas Advocates or Children and Families, has advocated for the adoption of the credit, but the Governor and the Arkansas General Assembly has reduced the grocery store tax to provide financial relief--from 6 percent to 2%.
Take a moment and review the report at the link above and learn more about the potential for state EITCs to improve children's health. In the Mid South where too many children lack access to health services and have high rates of obesity, state EITCs should be looked into as an additional measure to improve health and well-being.Return to News