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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 17;12(11):e0187904. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187904. eCollection 2017.

Hospital utilization and out of pocket expenditure in public and private sectors under the universal government health insurance scheme in Chhattisgarh State, India: Lessons for universal health coverage.

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Public Health Resource Network, India, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India.
School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa.
School of Public Health, UWC/MRC Health Services to Systems Unit, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa.
School of Health Systems Studies (SHSS), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India.


Research on impact of publicly financed health insurance has paid relatively little attention to the nature of healthcare provision the schemes engage. India's National Health Insurance Scheme or RSBY was made universal by Chhattisgarh State in 2012. In the State, public and private sectors provide hospital services in a context of extensive gender, social, economic and geographical inequities. This study examined enrolment, utilization (public and private) and out of pocket (OOP) expenditure for the insured and uninsured, in Chhattisgarh. The Chhattisgarh State Central sample (n = 6026 members) of the 2014 National Sample Survey (71st Round) on Health was extracted and analyzed. Variables of enrolment, hospitalization, out of pocket (OOP) expenditure and catastrophic expenditure were descriptively analyzed. Multivariate analyses of factors associated with enrolment, hospitalization (by sector) and OOP expenditure were conducted, taking into account gender, socio-economic status, residence, type of facility and ailment. Insurance coverage was 38.8%. Rates of hospitalization were 33/1000 population among the insured and 29/1000 among the uninsured. Of those insured and hospitalized, 67.2% utilized the public sector. Women, rural residents, Scheduled Tribes and poorer groups were more likely to utilize the public sector for hospitalizations. Although the insured were less likely to incur out of pocket (OOP) expenditure, 95.1% of insured private sector users and 66.0% of insured public sector users, still incurred costs. Median OOP payments in the private sector were eight times those in the public sector. Of households with at least one member hospitalized, 35.5% experienced catastrophic health expenditures (>10% monthly household consumption expenditure). The study finds that despite insurance coverage, the majority still incurred OOP expenditure. The public sector was nevertheless less expensive, and catered to the more vulnerable groups. It suggests the need to further examine the roles of public and private sectors in financial risk protection through government health insurance.

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