Does health insurance contribute to improved utilization of health care services for the elderly in rural Tanzania? A cross-sectional study

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Does health insurance contribute to improved utilization of health care services for the elderly in rural Tanzania? A cross-sectional study


JournalGlobal Health Action
Article typeJournal research article – Clinical research
Publication date – Nov – 2020
Authors – Malale Tungu , Paul Joseph Amani , Anna-Karin Hurtig , Angwara Dennis Kiwara , Mughwira Mwangu , Lars Lindholm & Miguel San Sebastiån
KeywordsAccess, community health fund, health care use, older people, rural, SAGE, Tanzania
Open access – Yes
SpecialityHealth policy
World region Eastern Africa
Country: Tanzania
Language – English
Submitted to the One Surgery Index on December 30, 2020 at 12:31 pm
Abstract:

Background: Health care systems in developing countries such as Tanzania depend heavily on out-of-pocket payments. This mechanism contributes to inefficiency, inequity and cost, and is a barrier to patients seeking access to care. There are efforts to expand health insurance coverage to vulnerable groups, including older adults, in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Objective: To analyse the association between health insurance and health service use in rural residents aged 60 and above in Tanzania.

Methods: Data were obtained from a household survey conducted in the Nzega and Igunga districts. A standardised survey instrument from the World Health Organization Study on global AGEing and adult health was used. This comprised of questions regarding demographic and socio-economic characteristics, health and insurance status, health seeking behaviours, sickness history (three months and one year prior to the survey), and the receipt of health care. A multistage sampling method was used to select wards, villages and respondents in each district. Local ward and hamlet officers guided the researchers in identifying households with older people. Crude and adjusted logistic regression methods were used to explore associations between health insurance and outpatient and inpatient health care use.

Results: The study sample comprised 1,899 people aged 60 and above of whom 44% reported having health insurance. A positive statistically significant association between health insurance and the utilisation of outpatient and inpatient care was observed in all models. The odds of using outpatient (adjusted OR = 2.20; 95% CI: 1.54, 3.14) and inpatient services (adjusted OR = 3.20; 95% CI: 2.46, 4.15) were higher among the insured.

Conclusion: Health insurance is a predictor of outpatient and inpatient health services in people aged 60 and above in rural Tanzania. Further research is needed to understand the perceptions of both the insured and uninsured regarding the quality of care received.

OSI Number – 20819

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