Factors associated with patient payments exceeding National Health Insurance fees and out-of-pocket payments in Lao PDR

Background
Attaining universal health coverage is a target in the Sustainable Development Goals. In Lao PDR, to achieve universal health coverage, the government is implementing a national insurance scheme, initially targeting the informal sector.

Objective
The purpose was to assess: i) the percentage of NHI patients who paid above the scheduled amount, based on individual billing payment; and ii) the factors related to overpayment.

Methods
Descriptive cross-sectional study based on a structured questionnaire administered at health facilities in face-to-face interviews with 1,850 patients in six provinces.

Results
All 1,850 participants worked in the informal sector. Of these, 78.8% of respondents (77.9% of in-patients; 79.5% of out-patients) made co-payments or were exempted from. Factors associated with in-patients paying above the scheduled fee were living in the province and district (OR = 2.8; 95%CI 1.2 to 6.3); not having documents with them (OR = 21.2; 95%CI 5.6 to 80.3); or not having documents (OR: 7.8; 95% CI 2.1 to 28.6). Significant factors associated with additional costs for out-patients were level of facility used at the provincial hospital (OR:1.4; 95% CI 1.1 to 1.9); older age (OR = 2.2; 95%CI 1.5 to 3.1); living in the province and district (OR = 2.3; 95%CI 1.5 to 3.7); living more than 5 km from the facility (OR = 1.4; 95%CI 1.1 to 1.9); buying medicine or supplies outside of the health facility (OR: 5.6; 95% CI 3.1 to 10.2); not bringing documents (OR:9.1; 95% CI 6.1 to 13.5), not having the right documents (OR: 8.9; 95% CI 5.4 to 14.8).

Conclusions
A number of patients paid above scheduled fee rates, which may deter people from utilising services when needing them. There is a need for increased understanding of the benefits of the national insurance scheme among patients and healthcare staff.

Epilepsy in Asia: Disease burden, management barriers, and challenges.

This article reviews the burden of epilepsy in Asia, the challenges faced by people with epilepsy, and the management of epilepsy. Comparison is made with other parts of the world. For this narrative review, data were collected using specified search criteria. Articles investigating the epidemiology of epilepsy, diagnosis, comorbidities and associated mortality, stigmatization, and treatment were included. Epilepsy is a global health care issue affecting up to 70 million people worldwide. Nearly 80% of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries with limited resources. People with epilepsy are prone to physical and psychological comorbidities, including anxiety and depression, which can negatively impact their quality of life. Furthermore, people with epilepsy are at higher risk of premature death than people without epilepsy. Discrimination or stigmatization of people with epilepsy is common in Asia and can affect their education, work, and marriage opportunities. Access to epilepsy treatment varies throughout Asia. Although highly advanced treatment is available in some countries, up to 90% of people with epilepsy are not adequately treated or are not treated with conventional antiepileptic therapy in resource-limited countries. People in remote areas often do not receive any epilepsy care. First-generation antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are available, but usually only in urban areas, and second-generation AEDs are not available in all countries. Newer AEDs tend to have more favorable safety profiles than first-generation AEDs and provide options to tailor therapy for individual patients, especially those with comorbidities. Active epilepsy surgery centers are present in some countries, although epilepsy surgery is often underutilized given the number of patients who could benefit. Further epidemiologic research is needed to provide accurate epilepsy data across the Asian region. Coordinated action is warranted to improve access to treatment and care.