Background Healthcare financing through out-of-pocket payments and inequities in healthcare utilisation are common in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Given the dearth of pertinent studies on these issues among older people in LMICs, we investigated the determinants of health service use, out-of-pocket and catastrophic health expenditures among older people in one LMIC, India.
Methods We accessed data from a nationally representative, multistage sample of 2414 people aged 65 years and older from the WHO's Study on global Ageing and adult health in India. Sociodemographic characteristics, health profiles, health service utilisation and out-of-pocket health expenditure were assessed using standard instruments. Multivariate zero-inflated negative binomial regression models were used to evaluate the determinants of health service visits. Multivariate Heckman sample selection regression models were used to assess the determinants of out-of-pocket and catastrophic health expenditures.
Results Out-of-pocket health expenditures were higher among participants with disability and lower income. Diabetes, hypertension, chronic pulmonary disease, heart disease and tuberculosis increased the number of health visits and out-of-pocket health expenditures. The prevalence of catastrophic health expenditure among older people in India was 7% (95% CI 6% to 8%). Older men and individuals with chronic diseases were at higher risk of catastrophic health expenditure, while access to health insurance lowered the risk.
Conclusions Reducing out-of-pocket health expenditure among older people is an important public health issue, in which social as well as medical determinants should be prioritised. Enhanced public health sector performance and provision of publicly funded insurance may protect against catastrophic health expenses and healthcare inequities in India.
- HEALTH SERVICES
- PUBLIC HEALTH