Analysis of the distributional impact of out-of-pocket health payments: Evidence from a public health insurance program for the poor in Mexico
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Many governments have health programs focused on improving health among the poor and these have an impact on out-of-pocket health payments made by individuals. Therefore, one of the objectives of these programs is to reach the poorest and reduce their out-of-pocket expenditure. In this paper we propose the distributional poverty impact approach to measure the poverty impact of out-of-pocket health payments of different health financing policies. This approach is comparable to the impoverishment methodology proposed by Wagstaff and van Doorslaer (2003) that compares poverty indices before and after out-of-pocket health payments. In order to escape the specification of a particular poverty index, we use the marginal dominance approach that uses non-intersecting curves and can rank poverty reducing health financing policies. We present an empirical application of the out-of-pocket health payments for an innovative social financing policy implemented in Mexico named Seguro Popular. The paper finds evidence that Seguro Popular program has a better distributional poverty impact when families face illness when compared to other poverty reducing policies. The empirical dominance approach uses data from Mexico in 2006 and considers international poverty standards of $2 per person per day. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.