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New Mexican health-care program successful at reducing crippling health care costs
Date:4/7/2009

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Seguro Popular, a Mexican health care program instituted in 2003, has already reduced crippling health care costs among poorer households, according to an evaluation conducted by researchers at Harvard University in collaboration with researchers in Mexico.

The study was designed and led by Gary King, David Florence Professor of Government and director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard. The results are published in the current issue of The Lancet.

"The success of Seguro Popular in reducing catastrophic health expenditures is remarkable," says King, "not least because governmental money spent on the poor in many countries rarely reaches the intended recipients."

King's study of about 500,000 people is the largest-ever randomized health policy experiment. It features innovative research designs and statistical methods he and his colleagues developed that increase what we learn from an evaluation while simultaneously saving a great deal of money. The design includes several failsafe components that preserve the experimental randomization even if politics or other problems intervene, including those which have ruined most previous large scale public policy evaluations. The approach is now being implemented or considered for evaluations of many other public policy programs around the world.

Passed in 2003, Seguro Popular was developed to provide health care to 50 million Mexicans who otherwise lack coverage. Voluntary enrollment in the program, at no cost to the poor, provides access to health clinics, drugs, regular and preventative medical care, and the money to pay for it all. The program's primary goal is the reduction of catastrophic health expenses, those exceeding one-third of a household's yearly disposable income.

About a half a million people in 118,569 households were included in this study, which was conducted over 10 months. In the treatment clusters, 44 p
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Contact: Amy Lavoie
amy_lavoie@harvard.edu
617-496-9982
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

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