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Catastrophic expenditure due to out-of-pocket health payments and its determinants in Colombian households

Jeannette Liliana Amaya-Lara
International Journal for Equity in Health 2016 November 10, 15 (1): 182

BACKGROUND: Out-of-pocket expenditure to pay for health services could result in financial catastrophe. The purpose of this study was to identify the incidence and determinants of catastrophic out-of-pocket payments for healthcare in Colombia. The underlying hypotheses are that low-income and non-insured population in Colombia, and households living in isolated and high level of rurality regions, are more likely to incur catastrophic healthcare expenses.

METHODS: This study used data from the Quality of Life National Survey conducted in Colombia in 2011. The presence of catastrophic healthcare spending was calculated using the methodology proposed by the World Health Organization in 2005. Households were classified as having catastrophic health spending when their out-of-pocket health payments were over 20 % of their payment capacity. All other households were classified as not having catastrophic health spending. A probit model was estimated aimed at determining what factors influence the probability of catastrophic healthcare spending.

RESULTS: Study findings show that 9.6 % of Colombian households had catastrophic expenditure. The incidence was higher in households in the Pacífica and Atlántica regions, extended and nuclear families, households with children or elderly adults, located in rural areas, and not insured under the healthcare system. The ratio of household members who work seems to reduce the risk of catastrophic healthcare spending, but the occurrence of any in-patient event increases it. So, there is no statistical evidence for rejecting the hypotheses under study.

CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate the importance of establishing intervention mechanisms in order to improve equity in access and payment for health care, protect vulnerable groups against financial risk, and, consequently, reduce the incidence of catastrophic healthcare spending. For this, it is essential to achieve universal health coverage through standardized and improved health services packages for vulnerable age groups and implement healthcare campaigns for households in rural areas where the incidence of out-of-pocket payments is higher.


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