Multidimensional poverty, telehealth, and perinatal healthcare

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Dong, Xiaoyu
Dench, Daniel
Dhongde, Shatakshee
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This dissertation commences with an evaluation of multidimensional poverty in America among various racial and ethnic groups throughout the past decade. The analysis reveals that a higher and notable percentage of individuals face deprivation evidenced through health indicators, regardless of their race or ethnicity, compared to the other four indicators. To delve deeper into this issue, the next two theses concentrate on the impact of public health policies on reducing health costs and enhancing health outcomes. The first thesis presents alternative indices to estimate multidimensional poverty in the USA over the last decade with a focus on analyzing trends by race and ethnicity. Individual level data on five different dimensions of well-being were compiled over the last decade using annual Census surveys. The results indicate a decline in multidimensional poverty over time, with different indices highlighting different aspects of poverty. The second thesis investigates the impact of telehealth parity laws (TPLs) on healthcare expenses. TPLs remove barriers for patients from using telehealth services, and the study finds that passing TPLs decreased total healthcare expenses, hospital care expenses, and physician service expenses significantly. The effects were observed to increase over time, suggesting that telehealth could be an effective substitute for in-person visits in reducing healthcare costs. The final thesis examines the impact of e-cigarette policies on birth outcomes, specifically the effects of vaping during pregnancy on birth weight and compares the results with smoking only and dual-use. The study finds negative effects of vaping on birth outcomes, but these effects are about half the magnitude of those associated with smoking alone on birth weight. Overall, this dissertation sheds light on the issue of multidimensional poverty and the impact of public health policies on reducing health expenses and improving health outcomes. This highlights the importance of considering multiple dimensions of poverty, the potential benefits of telehealth and effective policy interventions in improving public health.
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