Heterogeneous impact of the "Seguro Popular" program on the utilization of obstetrical services in Mexico, 2001-2006: A multinomial probit model with a discrete endogenous variable
Objective We evaluated the impact of Seguro Popular (SP), a program introduced in 2001 in Mexico primarily to finance health care for the poor. We focused on the effect of household enrollment in SP on pregnant women's access to obstetrical services, an important outcome measure of both maternal and infant health.Data We relied upon data from the cross-sectional 2006 National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT) in Mexico. We analyzed the responses of 3890 women who delivered babies during 2001-2006 and whose households lacked employer-based health care coverage.Methods We formulated a multinomial probit model that distinguished between three mutually exclusive sites for delivering a baby: a health unit specifically accredited by SP; a non-SP-accredited clinic run by the Department of Health (Secretaría de Salud, or SSA); and private obstetrical care. Our model accounted for the endogeneity of the household's binary decision to enroll in the SP program.Results Women in households that participated in the SP program had a much stronger preference for having a baby in a SP-sponsored unit rather than paying out of pocket for a private delivery. At the same time, participation in SP was associated with a stronger preference for delivering in the private sector rather than at a state-run SSA clinic. On balance, the Seguro Popular program reduced pregnant women's attendance at an SSA clinic much more than it reduced the probability of delivering a baby in the private sector. The quantitative impact of the SP program varied with the woman's education and health, as well as the assets and location (rural vs. urban) of the household.Conclusions The SP program had a robust, significantly positive impact on access to obstetrical services. Our finding that women enrolled in SP switched from non-SP state-run facilities, rather than from out-of-pocket private services, is important for public policy and requires further exploration.
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