Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Healthcare Policy & Research

First Advisor

Dr Andrew J. Barnes

Second Advisor

Dr April Kimmel

Third Advisor

Dr David Harless

Fourth Advisor

Dr Tia Palermo


This dissertation examined two policies to improve low-income women and children’s healthcare utilization: physician payments and cash transfer programs. Higher physician payments increase the supply of healthcare services while cash transfers increase individuals’ demand for healthcare services. Cash transfer programs can improve health outcomes, yet the extent to which they are a cost-effective strategy is largely understudied. Therefore, this dissertation examines three overarching research questions:

  1. Are Medicaid physician fees associated with access to substance abuse disorder (SUD) treatment among low-income women of reproductive age?
  2. Do economic preferences moderate cash transfer program effects on children’s health care utilization? Evidence from a randomized field experiment in Kenya.
  3. Are cash transfer programs cost-effective in reducing infectious diseases amongst orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya?

Broadly, the evidence from these papers suggests that supply and demand driven public policies increase the use of healthcare services for low-income women and children. Specifically, higher state Medicaid physician payments improve access to SUD treatment for low-income non-Hispanic Black women of reproductive age. Further, cash transfer programs improve the use of preventative healthcare services for children, and this impact is moderated by a caregiver’s time preference. Additionally, a cash transfer program is cost-effective in reducing illnesses amongst children compared to the status-quo. Policy makers should invest resources in policies supporting increased physician payments and cash transfers to improve low-income women and children’s health.


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