J Costa Font
F A Cowell
Belén Sáenz de Miera Juárez

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Measuring pure health inequality and mobility during a health insurance expansion: Evidence from Mexico

The association of insurance expansions and the distribution of health status is still a matter we know little about. This paper draws upon new measures of pure (univariate) inequality and mobility which accommodate categorical data to understand how an expansion of public insurance may be related to both health inequality and mobility. These measures require a definition of individual’s status that is either “downward looking” or “upward looking”. Using data from the Mexican Family Life Survey, a nationally representative longitudinal survey, we find that the distribution of health has worsened in Mexico between 2002 and 2009, although the change is only consistent for an upward looking definition status. Together with the lack of mobility in self-reported health, we can thus conclude that Mexico has become more rigid over time despite the rapid public health expansion that took place over the 2000s decade. While further research on the potential drivers of health inequalities is needed, our findings suggest that insurance coverage alone may be not enough to reduce health disparities and promote health mobility. Indeed, health inequality and mobility likely depend on a myriad of factors beyond health care.