In results from the largest health policy study of its kind, a Mexican health care program created in 2003 has been found effective in reducing crippling health care costs among poorer households. The results reflect the success of the Seguro Popular program, and arise from an evaluation conducted by researchers, including a Princeton University faculty member, in collaboration with researchers in Mexico.
"We were able to scientifically establish that the program achieved its main goal to reduce health care costs," said Kosuke Imai, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton who developed a new statistical method for the study. "This represents an important success not only for health care but also for a larger agenda to encourage evidence-based policymaking." The new method, he said, enables more accurate and efficient evaluation and is now being implemented or considered for evaluations of many other public policy programs around the world.
The results are published in the current issue of The Lancet.
"The success of Seguro Popular in reducing catastrophic health expenditures is remarkable, not least because governmental money spent on the poor in many countries rarely reaches the intended recipients," said Gary King, the lead author on the study and the David Florence Professor of Government and director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.
The study, which included 500,000 people, is the largest randomized health policy study ever conducted. The success of Seguro Popular, which covers about as many people as are uninsured in America, could provide lessons for other countries, the authors said.
Seguro Popular was developed to provide health care to 50 million Mexicans who otherwise would lack coverage. Voluntary enrollment in the program, provided at no cost to the poor, offers access to health clinics, medications, regular and preventive medical care, and the money
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