Diabetes treatment and control: the effect of public health insurance for the poor in Mexico
Sandra G Sosa-Rubí, Omar Galárraga & Ruy López-Ridaura
To analyse the effect of enrolment in the public health insurance scheme known as Seguro Popular [People’s Insurance] on access to health resources, treatment and blood glucose control among poor adults with diabetes in Mexico.
We analysed cross-sectional data from the 2006 National Health and Nutrition Survey and compared health care access and biological health outcomes, specifically glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, among adults with diabetes who were enrolled in the Seguro Popular (treatment group) and those who had no health insurance (control group). Standard propensity score matching was used to create a highly comparable control group.
Adults with diabetes who were enrolled in the Seguro Popular had significantly more access than comparable uninsured adults to some type of blood glucose control test (by a difference of 9.5 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, CI: 2.4–16.6) and to insulin injections (3.13 more per week; 95% CI: 0.04–6.22). Those with insurance were also significantly more likely to have appropriately-controlled blood glucose levels (HbA1c ≤ 7%) than their uninsured counterparts (by a difference of 5.6 percentage points; 95% CI: 0.9–10.3). Very poor glucose control (HbA1c > 12%) was found in a significantly smaller proportion of adults in the insured group than in the uninsured group (by a difference of 17.5 percentage points; 95% CI: 6.5–28.5).
The Seguro Popular appears to have improved access to health care and blood glucose control among poor adults with diabetes in Mexico, and it may have had a positive effect on the management of other chronic health conditions, but its long-term effects are yet to be demonstrated. Although the findings are most relevant to Mexico, they may also be applicable to other developing countries seeking to improve health-care coverage for the poor by expanding their public health insurance programmes.