Dissertation Title: "Using Empirical Data to Evaluate Strategies to Improve Women's Health"
My three papers evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of clinical and policy strategies to improve women’s health, focusing on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in the U.S. and maternal health care in a developing country context. Paper 1 presents a claims-based econometric analysis of the Affordable Care Act provision requiring the elimination of cost-sharing for recommended preventive care. I evaluate the effect of this value-based insurance design intervention on HPV immunization rates among girls and young women enrolled in private insurance plans. My regression approach uses variation in the intensity and timing of the intervention across plans to distinguish policy effects from background trends. I find that the policy was associated with modest increases in age-specific vaccination rates. Increases in vaccination per dollar reduction in cost-sharing were notably larger among beneficiaries in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. Nevertheless, vaccination rates under free preventive care were well below federal targets, highlighting the need for additional interventions to increase HPV vaccine coverage.
In Paper 2, I undertake a comparative effectiveness analysis of HPV vaccination by dose level within a U.S. cohort of adolescent girls and young women. Rates of screening-detected cervical abnormalities in claims are compared among recipients of zero, one, two, or three doses, using a marginal structural model approach to adjust for a broader set of potential confounders than would be possible with conventional regression methods. Findings from these analyses complement prior evidence from immunogenicity trials and, although protective effects appear greatest with three doses, support the value of HPV vaccination even when incomplete. Vaccine effect estimates are largest with respect to high-grade lesions that are precursors to cervical cancer.
Using primary data from a randomized experiment, Paper 3 examines the cost-effectiveness of pay-for-performance interventions among obstetric care providers in rural Karnataka, India. I construct a decision analytic model to quantify incremental costs and life years under alternative policy scenarios, combining obstetric complication outcomes and program expenditures from the trial with published evidence on complication-related mortality and medical costs. Results suggest that an incentive program based on input quality is not cost-effective in its current form, but could become economically attractive if program activities can be adjusted to reduce costs while maintaining similar health effects. Performance data collection costs were substantial in this resource-limited setting and represent a key barrier to cost-effectiveness.