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Abstract: Aiming to address longstanding socioeconomic inequalities in healthcare access, Peru entitled its poor adult population to basic tax-financed medical benefits in 2007. This paper uses micro-data from several years of Peru’s national household survey (ENAHO) to examine the reform’s impacts on healthcare utilization. Using a difference-in-difference approach that compares utilization trends of poor individuals covered by formal employment based social insurance with those of the coverage extension’s target group, we find positive impacts on the use of ambulatory consultations, medicines, and diagnostic tests but no effects on specialist visits and hospitalizations. Heterogeneity analysis reveals that the utilization increases are particularly large in areas which also experienced an increase in the health workforce around the time of the reform. To investigate impacts on mortality, we furthermore combine district level data from the Peruvian 2007 population census with local deaths records. Preliminary results do not indicate an impact of the coverage extension on mortality.
[Keywords: health and development economics, applied econometrics]