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Economic vulnerability to health shocks and coping strategies: evidence from Andhra Pradesh, India

Health Policy and Planning

Oxford University Press (OUP)

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      Out-of-pocket health expenditure and debt in poor households: evidence from Cambodia.

      To document how out-of-pocket health expenditure can lead to debt in a poor rural area in Cambodia. After a dengue epidemic, 72 households with a dengue patient were interviewed to document health-seeking behaviour, out-of-pocket expenditure, and how they financed such expenditure. One year later, a follow-up visit investigated how the 26 households with an initial debt had coped with it. The amount of out-of-pocket health expenditure depended mostly on where households sought care. Those who had used exclusively private providers paid on average US dollars 103; those who combined private and public providers paid US dollars 32, and those who used only the public hospital US dollars 8. The households used a combination of savings, selling consumables, selling assets and borrowing money to finance this expenditure. One year later, most families with initial debts had been unable to settle these debts, and continued to pay high interest rates (range between 2.5 and 15% per month). Several households had to sell their land. In Cambodia, even relatively modest out-of-pocket health expenditure frequently causes indebtedness and can lead to poverty. A credible and accessible public health system is needed to prevent catastrophic health expenditure, and to allow for other strategies, such as safety nets for the poor, to be fully effective.
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        Can insurance increase financial risk? The curious case of health insurance in China.

        We analyze the effect of insurance on the probability of an individual incurring 'high' annual health expenses using data from three household surveys. All come from China, a country where providers are paid fee-for-service according to a schedule that encourages the overprovision of high-tech care and who are only lightly regulated. We define annual spending as 'high' if it exceeds a threshold of local average income and as 'catastrophic' if it exceeds a threshold of the household's own per capita income. Our estimates allow for different thresholds and for the possible endogeneity of health insurance (we use instrumental variables and fixed effects). Our main results suggest that in all three surveys health insurance increases the risk of high and catastrophic spending. Further analysis suggests that this is due to insurance encouraging people to seek care when sick and to seek care from higher-level providers.
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          Insured yet vulnerable: out-of-pocket payments and India's poor.

          Protecting households from high out-of-pocket (OOP) payments for health care is an important health system goal. High OOP payments can push households into poverty and make them vulnerable to catastrophic health expenditures. This study, based in India, aims to: (a) estimate OOP payments for health and related impoverishment across economic groups; (b) decompose OOP payments and relate the contribution of their components to impoverishment; and (c) examine how well recently introduced national insurance schemes meant for the poor are able to provide financial protection. The analysis of nationally representative data from India shows that 3.5% of the population fall below the poverty line and 5% households suffer catastrophic health expenditures. The poverty deepening impact of OOP payments was at a maximum in people below the poverty line in comparison with those above (Rs. 10.45 vs. Rs. 1.50, respectively). Medicines constitute the main share (72%) of total OOP payments. This share reaches 82% for outpatient care, compared with 42% for inpatient care. Removing OOP payments for inpatient care leads to a negligible fall in the poverty headcount ratio and poverty gap. However, if OOP payments for either medicines or outpatient care are removed then only 0.5% people fall into poverty due to spending on health. These findings suggest that insurance schemes which cover only hospital expenses, like those being rolled out nationally in India, will fail to adequately protect the poor against impoverishment due to spending on health. Further, issues related to identifying the poor and their targeting also constrain the scheme's impact. A broader coverage of benefits, to include medicines and outpatient care for the poor and near poor (i.e. those just above the poverty line), is necessary to achieve significant protection from impoverishment.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Health Policy and Planning
            Health Policy Plan.
            Oxford University Press (OUP)
            0268-1080
            1460-2237
            June 21 2016
            July 2016
            July 2016
            February 02 2016
            : 31
            : 6
            : 749-758
            10.1093/heapol/czv127
            © 2016

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