Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs


Nudging Global Health

This is a joint post with Denizhan Duran.

Leveraging better health outcomes is difficult without addressing the behavioral roots of health problems: around half of the world’s disability-adjusted life years are lost due to behavioral factors such as physical inactivity, high blood pressure, malnutrition and smoking. On top of these, a significant portion of the burden associated with communicable diseases is also due to behavioral factors: limited use of preventive health care like immunization, poor child feeding practices, risky-taking behaviors, poor adherence to treatment and poor hygiene are all important drivers of healthy life years lost in low- and middle-income countries.

Learning from the Early Success of India’s Health Insurance for the Poor, RSBY

India’s finance minister Chidambaram recently announced that Anil Swarup, the leader behind the Ministry of Labour’s health insurance program for the poor, was assigned as the head of a panel to identify and get results for 215 large and long-stalled projects. While this big news of Swarup’s transfer was anticipated, just five years ago it was hardly imaginable that Swarup and his team would start India’s health insurance program for the poor – Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) – and grow this fledgling to be one of India’s increasingly important vehicles of social protection and health coverage. While the evidence on RSBY is still developing, early results are encouraging: increased health care utilization and hospitalization; some indication of reduced out-of-pocket payments for healthcare; and a means of identification with a clearly linked entitlement (see here).