Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Pavlina Tcherneva

Abstract/Artist's Statement

At the heart of public health is a paradox. The world has found cure for many fatal diseases, however, the problem of health inequalities remains present both between and within countries. The following project focuses on health equity under a human rights framework. The recognition of the human right to health allows the analysis of healthcare provision as a social determinant of health that is constrained by social and economic gradients. The project presents a literature review on the human right to health, as well as on the measures of health inequality and inequity. We evaluate the U.S. healthcare system by analyzing the equity impact of public health expenditure. Data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) is linked to run a Benefit-incidence Analysis (BIA) to determine the progressivity of the American Healthcare System in benefiting the poor. The study finds that in the health sector as a whole the United States has a pro-poor allocation of public resources. However, each type of service has a different benefit incidence on the poor. These results have to be interpreted carefully, as data limitations do not allow full analysis of the complexity of the American healthcare system and we do not account for tax subsidies on health insurance. However, the study points out the types of health service and publicly-funded programs that better benefit the poor and those where better targeted policies could be useful. The policy implications of the results are particularly relevant amid the political and economic reality.

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