Catastrophic spending on health care in Brazil: private health insurance does not seem to be the solution

Aluísio J D Barros, João Luiz Bastos, Andréa H Dâmaso
Cadernos de Saúde Pública 2011, 27 Suppl 2: S254-62
The objective of this study was to estimate catastrophic healthcare expenditure in Brazil, using different definitions, and to identify vulnerability indicators. Data from the 2002-2003 Brazilian Household Budget Survey were used to derive total household consumption, health expenditure and household income. Socioeconomic position was defined by quintiles of the National Economic Indicator using reference cut-off points for the country. Analysis was restricted to urban households. Catastrophic health expenditure was defined as expenditure in excess of 10% and 20% of total household consumption, and in excess of 40% of household capacity to pay. Catastrophic health expenditure varied from 2% to 16%, depending on the definition. For most definitions, it was highest among the poorer. The highest proportions of catastrophic health expenditure were found to be in the Central region of Brazil, while the South and the Southeast had the lowest. Presence of an elderly person, health insurance and socioeconomic position were associated with the outcome, and coverage by health insurance did not protect from catastrophic health expenditure.

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