I estimate and decompose the welfare benefit of Thailand's universal health care policy, also known as the “30 Baht program”. The total welfare impact of the 30 Baht program is defined as the amount of consumption that an enrollee would need to give up so as to leave her with the same expected utility as without the 30 Baht program. I find that the total welfare benefit is approximately 75 cents per dollar of government spending. The main source of the welfare effect can be attributed to improved consumption smoothing rather than increases in the consumption level. Using the difference in differences method, I find that the effect of the 30 Baht program on income is significantly positive, while the effect on consumption is slightly negative but not significant. This implies that the 30 Baht program has a positive impact on savings and future consumption, rather than current consumption.
Natt Hongdilokkul joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) during the 2017-2018 academic year as a postdoctoral scholar in Developing Asia Health policy. His research interests concern the effect of universal health care on household outcomes and welfare using micro-level panel data in Thailand. He received a PhD and an MA in Economics from Simon Fraser University, Canada, and another MA and a BA in Economics from Thammasat University, Thailand.