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Study to assess impact of health reform in India
Date:10/28/2013

A University of Chicago professor in law and medicine is helping the nation of India assess the results of a massive health reform program targeting its poorest populations, as the government considers whether to extend the five-year-old effort.

Anup Malani is currently conducting several interdisciplinary studies involving 60,000 residents spread across hundreds of villages in the state of Karnataka, India, beneficiaries of a new health insurance program called Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) that could ultimately apply to more than 300 million people. Malani hopes to use this large-scale research effort to help establish a center at the University of Chicago to study international health care economics and policies.

Whether to do so, and, if so, how are huge questions.

"Given RSBY's young age, the lack of data on utilization patterns and the absence of any experimental evaluation studies, policymakers should exercise caution before judging the merits of the program," said Malani, the Lee and Brena Freeman Professor at the UChicago Law School and a professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine. "We are conducting rigorous research based on randomized impact evaluations in order to ascertain the program's true benefits, much of which are currently masked by the methodological problems in previously conducted observational studies."

The new research is aimed at determining not only what impact the health insurance program has had thus far, but also why it has had this impact. Does health insurance improve health? Or does it mainly reduce the financial burden of paying for health care? Are there gender disparities in who benefits?

"Our research will help the government improve the program rather than just expand it," Malani said. Preliminary results are expected by mid-2014.

New international health policy center

Malani hopes this research will spawn a center to study health care econ
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Contact: Steve Koppes
skoppes@uchicago.edu
773-702-8366
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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