Event Detail

Getting What You Pay For: Universal Health Coverage for the Poor under Mexico's Seguro Popular

Presented by:
Jeremy Barofsky

Thursday, May 6, 2021
On-line via Zoom
3:45 pm-5:00 pm

Health insurance represents a large and growing expenditure in low- and middle-income nations. This paper measures the effect of Seguro Popular, Mexico's former health insurance program for the poor, on health spending, utilization, and health. I find that insurance sharply reduced health expenditure, generating gains equal to 21% of program cost. A stylized utility model indicates that reduced health-spending risk produced enough welfare to cover almost a quarter of program cost. However, insurance did not increase care utilization nor improve health for chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes. Analyzing supply, I find evidence for contraction in staffing levels and non-significant declines in other forms of health infrastructure. To explain these results, I note that Seguro Popular's demand-driven funding shifted resources away from low-uptake areas. These findings highlight both the benefits of health coverage and how supply-side responses can mitigate overall gains.