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Professor Judit Vall Receives Grant from the Ramón Areces Foundation

The Ramón Areces Foundation has published the resolution of the eighteenth National Competition for the Award of Research Grants in Social Sciences and Judit Vall, of the Barcelona Institute of Economics, has been one of the researchers named as recipient of the grant.

The study in which Professor Vall will be working is entitled “The regulation of medical tourism: evidence from the Spanish case”. The number of people traveling to another country for medical treatment or surgery is increasing. This has also been the case in Spain. In 2009, the Spanish government spent 441 million euros on medical assistance to non-residents. In response, in 2012, the Spanish government restricted free access to the public health system for those who do not legally reside in the country.

In her project, Professor Vall analyses the effectiveness of the restriction on the deterrence and reduction of medical tourism using a complete administrative data set of all medical procedures performed in Spain between 2008 and 2015.

In terms of methodology, the study will employ a quasi-experimental approach that exploits geographical and temporal variation in access to public health care by non-residents. Specifically, it will take into account the fact that the autonomous communities differed in the manner of implementing the reform: some had adopted alternative measures to ensure continued public healthcare service access to non-residents, while others did not. In assessing its impact, the study distinguishes among a variety of medical interventions.

In addition, the project addresses the impact of the 2012 restrictions on the duration of treatments and hospital stays, the number of interventions, readmissions, funding used, and expenses incurred in medical care. The study concludes with an estimate of the savings made as a result of the reform. As the researcher Judit Vall points out, “The findings are not only relevant to Spain—in terms of assessing the effectiveness of the policy in reducing spending on medical interventions and in ensuring the sustainability of the public health system—but also for other countries with a similar experience with medical tourism“.