Quality of hysterectomy care in rural Gujarat: the role of community-based health insurance

M Kent Ranson, K R John
Reproductive Health Matters 2002, 10 (20): 70-81
Community-based health insurance (CBHI) may be a mechanism for improving the quality of health care available to people outside the formal sector in developing countries. The purpose of this paper is to identify problems associated with the quality of hysterectomy care accessed by members of SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association), an Indian CBHI scheme, and discuss mechanisms that would optimize quality of care. Data on hysterectomy care were collected through a review of 63 insurance claims and semi-structured interviews with 12 providers. Quality of hysterectomy care accessed by SEWA's members varied from potentially dangerous to excellent. Dangerous conditions included operating theatres without separate hand-washing facilities or proper lighting, the absence of qualified nursing staff, performing hysterectomy on demand, removing both ovaries without consulting or notifying the patient, and failing to send the excised organs for histopathology, even when signs were suggestive of disease. Women paid substantial amounts of money, even for poor and potentially dangerous care. In order to improve the quality of care for its members, a CBHI scheme can: (1) gather data on the costs and complications for each provider, and investigate where these are excessive; (2) use incentives to encourage providers to make efficient and equitable resource allocations; (3) contract with providers giving a high standard of care or who agree to certain conditions; and (4) inform and advise doctors and the insured about the costs and benefits of different interventions. In the case of SEWA, it is most feasible to identify a limited number of hospitals providing better quality care and contract directly with them.

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