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Results Not Yet Seen for Mexico's Insurance for the Poor

Resources are reaching the poor but effects are not showing yet

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Mexico's Seguro Popular, which aims to help 50 million uninsured Mexicans get access to health insurance, preventive medical care, treatment, drugs and health facilities is not yet showing concrete results other than reaching its target population, according to an article published online April 8 in The Lancet.

Gary King, Ph.D., of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues conducted a study of 74 matched pairs of health clusters in seven Mexican states comprising 118,569 households, which were randomized to either receive encouragement to enroll in health insurance programs and upgraded medical facilities or not encouraged. A follow-up survey of 50 pairs covering 32,515 households was conducted 10 months later.

In intervention areas, there was a 23 percent drop in catastrophic expenditure, but the intervention did not have any effect on utilization of medical facilities, health outcomes or spending on medication, the investigators found.

"Although Seguro Popular seems to be successful at this early stage, further experiments and follow-up studies, with longer assessment periods, are needed to ascertain the long-term effects of the program," the authors write. "Although Seguro Popular is unprecedented in scope, we could only test the effects of the program as a whole rather than each component. We hope that other researchers will continue this research and apply our experimental design to other public policy reforms, both in Mexico and elsewhere."

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