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Influence of sub-national social health insurance scheme on enrollees’ health seeking behaviour in Anambra state, Nigeria: a pre and post study

BMC Public Health. 2022 Jun 11;22(1):1171. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-13606-x.


BACKGROUND: Appropriate health-seeking behaviour (HSB) is crucial for improving health outcomes and achieving universal health coverage (UHC). Accessing healthcare through the state social health insurance scheme (SSHIS) could lead to improved HSB. The study explores the influence of access to healthcare through health insurance on the HSB of the enrollees of the SSHIS in southeast, Nigeria.

METHODS: A descriptive cross-sectional study undertaken in twelve health facilities in Anambra state using quantitative and qualitative research methods. Data were collected through a facility-based survey (n = 447) and sex-disaggregated focus group discussions (n = 12) of health insurance enrollees. Univariate and bivariate analyses were performed for quantitative data, while qualitative data were analyzed using a manual content approach.

RESULT: The findings revealed a positive change in enrollee’s HSB post-health insurance enrollment. Majority (83%) of the respondents reported that they immediately take action when ill post-health insurance enrollment as against 34% (pre-health insurance) resulting in a 49% increase, with a statistically significant difference (p < 0.02). There was a statistically significant association between positive HSB and marital status (p < 0.04); educational level (p < 0.00); occupation (p < 0.03) and ownership of health facility (p < 0.00). There was an increase in the percentage of enrollees who use the hospital as their first choice of provider during an illness episode post-health insurance enrollment. This increased from 37.4% to 90.2% (post-health insurance enrollment), representing a 52.8% increase, which is statistically significant (p < 0.03), in seeking care in hospitals. Similarly, the percentage (46%) of enrollees using patent medicine vendors (PMVs) as their first choice of provider when ill prior to enrollment in health insurance decreased to 8.1% post-health insurance enrollment, representing a 38% decline with a statistically significant (p < 0.00) drop in PMV patronage. Reasons for positive HSB include low cost of services and availability of quality care such as quality drugs, presence of doctors, and other skilled health workers by the health insurance facilities.

CONCLUSION: Health insurance has been established as an effective strategy for improving appropriate HSB. Hence, increasing coverage of health insurance among the uninsured is crucial in improving access to quality and affordable health care towards achieving UHC, particularly in developing countries.

PMID:35690808 | DOI:10.1186/s12889-022-13606-x

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