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Mexico's health insurance success offers lessons for US reforms, Lancet study suggests
Date:4/8/2009

ement, showing it's been slow in reaching some residents. Surprisingly, researchers found no measurable, first-year effect on medication spending, health outcomes or utilization of health services. The bottom line, Moore said, is that without objective empirical evaluations of new programs, it's difficult to say whether funds are being spent effectively.

"This example of arms-length field experimentation and policy evaluation demonstrates how social science can contribute to bettering individuals' lives," said Moore. "A great deal can be gained when policymakers are willing to let science steer the evaluation process, when they're willing to subject themselves to the possibility of being wrong. When they do that, not only is better public policy made in the long run, but we have a stronger case to make for successful policies in the short run."

Moore is confident the Seguro Popular evaluation template could be used to guide healthcare reforms now contemplated by the Obama Administration. He points to the State Children's Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, as an example of legislation that already incorporates incentives for states to experiment with funding and services. Some Medicare reform plans encourage experimentation as a way to answer questions about what works best, both on cost and quality of care.

If America wants to be ready to make large-scale changes in its health system, now is the time for small-scale testing. "If researchers are allowed to select these test areas -- using scientifically and statistically valid methods - we'll be able to use experimental methods to do good science, to cut through the politics and get the answers we need," Moore said. "We can get at truth using these randomized experiments."


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Contact: Gerry Everding
gerry_everding@wustl.edu
314-935-6375
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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