Signs of discontent with the health care system are growing. Calls for health care reform are largely motivated by the continued increase in health care costs and the large number of people without adequate health insurance. For the past 20 years, health care spending has risen at rates higher than the gross national product. As many as 35 million people are without health insurance. As proposals for health care reform are developed, it is useful to understand the roots of the cost problem. Causes of spiraling health care costs include "market failure" in the health care market, expansion in technology, excessive administrative costs, unnecessary care and defensive medicine, increased patient complexity, excess capacity within the health care system, and low productivity. Attempts to control costs, by the federal government for the Medicare program and then by the private sector, have to date been mostly unsuccessful. New proposals for health care reform are proliferating, and important changes in the health care system are likely.
The government of Morocco approved two reforms in 2005 to expand health insurance coverage. The first is a payroll-based mandatory health insurance plan for public-and formal private–sector employees to extend coverage from the current 16 percent of the population to 30 percent. The second creates a publicly financed fund to cover services for the poor. Both reforms aim to improve access to high-quality care and reduce disparities in access and financing between income groups and between rural and urban dwellers. In this paper we analyze these reforms: the pre-reform debate, benefits covered, financing, administration, and oversight. We also examine prospects and future challenges for implementing the reforms.
In this paper, we use publicly available data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey - Insurance Component (MEPS-IC) to investigate the effect of Massachusetts’ health reform plan on employer-sponsored insurance premiums. We tabulate premium growth for private-sector employers in Massachusetts and the United States as a whole for 2004 – 2008. We estimate the effect of the plan as the difference in premium growth between Massachusetts and the United States between 2006 and 2008—that is, before versus after the plan—over and above the difference in premium growth for 2004 to 2006. We find that health reform in Massachusetts increased single-coverage employer-sponsored insurance premiums by about 6 percent, or $262. Although our research design has important limitations, it does suggest that policy makers should be concerned about the consequences of health reform for the cost of private insurance.
How realistic are proposals to expand the financing of Canadian health care through private insurance, either in a parallel stream or an expanded supplementary tier? Any successful business requires that revenues exceed expenditures. Under a voluntary health insurance plan those at highest risk would be the most likely to seek coverage; insurers working within a competitive market would have to limit their financial risk through such mechanisms as "risk selection" to avoid clients likely to incur high costs and/or imposing caps on the costs covered. It is unlikely that parallel private plans will have a market if a comprehensive public insurance system continues to exist and function well. Although supplementary plans are more congruous with insurance principles, they would raise costs for purchasers and would probably not provide full open-ended coverage to all potential clients. Insurance principles suggest that voluntary insurance plans that shift costs to the private sector would damage the publicly funded system and would be unable to cover costs for all services required.
In the transition from a planned economy to a market-oriented economy, China’s state funding for health care declined and traditional coverage plans collapsed, leaving China’s poor exposed to potentially ruinous health care costs. In reforming health care for the 21st century, equity in health care financing has become a major policy goal. To assess progress towards this goal, this paper examines the equity characteristics of health care financing in a province of northwestern China, comparing the equity performance between urban and rural areas at two different points in time.
Analysis of whether health care financing contributions were progressive according to income were made using the Kakwani index for each of the four health care financing channels of general taxes, public and private health insurance, and out-of-pocket payments. Two rounds of surveys were conducted, the first in 2003 (13,619 individuals in 3946 households) and the second in 2008 (12,973 individuals in 3958 households). Household socio-economic, health care payment, and utilization information were recorded in household interviews.
Low-income households have undertaken a larger share of the health care financing burden in recent years, reflected by negative Kakwani indices, which indicate a regressive system. We found that the indices for general taxation were −0.0024 (urban) and −0.0281 (rural) in 2002, and −0.0177 (urban) and −0.0097 (rural) in 2007. Public health insurance presented different financing distributions in urban and rural areas (urban: 0.0742 in 2002, 0.0661 in 2007; rural: –0.0615 in 2002,–0.1436 in 2007.). Out-of-pocket payments were progressive but not equitable. Public health insurance coverage has expanded but financing equity has decreased.
Health care financing policies in China need ongoing reform. Given the inequity of general consumption taxes, elimination of these would improve financing equity considerably. Optimizing benefit packages in public health insurance is as important as expanding coverage, both for health care financing and for utilization management as well. Although they are progressive, out-of-pocket payments are not equitable in China and have the effect of excluding the poor from health care as they cannot afford to pay for medical care and so withdraw from treatment.
Equity; Chinese health care reform; Financing; Kakwani index
The North American health care sector is being reformed to enhance collaboration among health care professionals to render patient care and improve outcomes. Changing educational frameworks will play a key role in achieving this goal. It is therefore important to gain an understanding of the application of interprofessional health care education and collaborative models of education. Chiropractic and other health care faculties would need to have an effective understanding and clarification of the characteristics of interprofessional care and its foundation in education from which appropriate educational and curricular models could be developed.
Collaboration; Curriculum; Education; Health Professional Curriculum; Interprofessional Education
The use of primary and managed care is likely to increase under proposed federal health care reform. I review the definition of primary care and primary care physicians and show that this delivery model can affect access to medical care, the cost of treatment, and the quality of services. Because the use of primary care is often greater in managed care than in fee-for-service, I compare the two insurance systems to further understand the delivery of primary care. Research suggests that primary care can help meet the goal of providing accessible, cost-effective, and high-quality care, but that changes in medical education and marketplace incentives will be needed to encourage students and trained physicians to enter this field.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as health reform, is designed to expand health coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans by 2019 and makes significant changes to public and private health insurance systems that will affect providers of HIV care. We review the major features of the legislation and when they will be implemented, discuss the ways in which it will affect HIV care for different patient populations, and outline implementation challenges that are relevant for HIV care. We conclude with ways in which HIV providers can get involved to learn more about the law and help their patients take advantage of the new opportunities for health coverage.
Affordable Care Act; health insurance coverage; Medicaid; Medicare; Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program
WE ADDRESSED THE QUESTION OF WHETHER PRIVATE HEALTH CARE IS ILLEGAL in Canada by surveying the health insurance legislation of all 10 provinces. Our survey revealed multiple layers of regulation that seem to have as their primary objective preventing the public sector from subsidizing the private sector, as opposed to rendering privately funded practice illegal. Private insurance for medically necessary hospital and physician services is illegal in only 6 of the 10 provinces. Nonetheless, a significant private sector has not developed in any of the 4 provinces that do permit private insurance coverage. The absence of a significant private sector is probably best explained by the prohibitions on the subsidy of private practice by public plans, measures that prevent physicians from topping up their public sector incomes with private fees.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) aims to provide affordable health insurance and expanded health care coverage for some 32 million Americans. The PPACA makes provisions for using technology, evidence-based treatments, and integrated, patient-centered care to modernize the delivery of health care services. These changes are designed to ensure effectiveness, efficiency, and cost-savings within the health care system.
To gauge the addiction treatment field’s readiness for health reform, the authors developed a Health Reform Readiness Index (HRRI) survey for addiction treatment agencies. Addiction treatment administrators and providers from around the United States completed the survey located on the http://www.niatx.net website. Respondents self-assessed their agencies based on 13 conditions pertinent to health reform readiness, and received a confidential score and instant feedback.
On a scale of “Needs to Begin,” “Early Stages,” “On the Way,” and “Advanced,” the mean scores for respondents (n = 276) ranked in the Early Stages of health reform preparation for 11 of 13 conditions. Of greater concern was that organizations with budgets of < $5 million (n = 193) were less likely than those with budgets > $5 million to have information technology (patient records, patient health technology, and administrative information technology), evidence-based treatments, quality management systems, a continuum of care, or a board of directors informed about PPACA.
The findings of the HRRI indicate that the addiction field, and in particular smaller organizations, have much to do to prepare for a future environment that has greater expectations for information technology use, a credentialed workforce, accountability for patient care, and an integrated continuum of care.
Health care reform; Addiction treatment; Substance use disorder treatment; SUD; Behavioral health; Organizational change; Care delivery; Health reform readiness index
In Finland, dental services are provided by a public (PDS) and a private sector. In the past, children, young adults and special needs groups were entitled to care and treatment from the public dental services (PDS). A major reform in 2001 – 2002 opened the PDS and extended subsidies for private dental services to all adults. It aimed to increase equity by improving adults' access to oral health care and reducing cost barriers. The aim of this study was to assess the impacts of the reform on the utilization of publicly funded and private dental services, numbers and distribution of personnel and costs in 2000 and in 2004, before and after the oral health care reform. An evaluation was made of how the health political goals of the reform: integrating oral health care into general health care, improving adults' access to care and lowering cost barriers had been fulfilled during the study period.
National registers were used as data sources for the study. Use of dental services, personnel resources and costs in 2000 (before the reform) and in 2004 (after the reform) were compared.
In 2000, when access to publicly subsidised dental services was restricted to those born in 1956 or later, every third adult used the PDS or subsidised private services. By 2004, when subsidies had been extended to the whole adult population, this increased to almost every second adult. The PDS reported having seen 118 076 more adult patients in 2004 than in 2000. The private sector had the same number of patients but 542 656 of them had not previously been entitled to partial reimbursement of fees.
The use of both public and subsidised private services increased most in big cities and urban municipalities where access to the PDS had been poor and the number of private practitioners was high. The PDS employed more dentists (6.5%) and the number of private practitioners fell by 6.9%. The total dental care expenditure (PDS plus private) increased by 21% during the study period. Private patients who had previously not been entitled to reimbursements seemed to gain most from the reform.
The results of this study indicate that implementation of a substantial reform, that changes the traditionally defined tasks of the public and private sectors in an established oral health care provision system, proceeds slowly, is expensive and probably requires more stringent steering than was the case in Finland 2001 – 2004. However, the equity and fairness of the oral health care provision system improved and access to services and cost-sharing improved slightly.
In an era of rising health care costs, many Americans experience difficulty paying for needed health care services. With costs expected to continue rising, changes to private insurance plans and public programs aimed at containing costs may have a negative impact on Americans' ability to afford care.
To provide estimates of the number of adults who avoid health care due to cost, and to assess the association of income, functional status, and type of insurance with the extent to which people with health insurance report financial barriers.
Cross-sectional observational study using data from the Commonwealth Fund 2001 Health Care Quality Survey, a nationally representative telephone survey.
U.S. adults age 18 and older (N=6,722).
Six measures of avoiding health care due to cost, including delaying or not seeking care; not filling prescription medicines; and not following recommended treatment plan.
The proportion of Americans with difficulty affording health care varies by income and health insurance coverage. Overall, 16.9% of Americans report at least 1 financial barrier. Among those with private insurance, the poor (28.4%), near poor (24.3%), and those with functional impairments (22.9%) were more likely to report avoiding care due to cost. In multivariate models, the uninsured are more likely (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.7 to 3.0) to have trouble paying for care. Independent of insurance coverage and other demographic characteristics, the poor (OR, 3.6; 95% CI, 2.1 to 4.6), near poor (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.9 to 3.7), and middle-income (OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.3 to 2.5) respondents as well as those with functional impairments (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.3 to 2.0) are significantly more likely to avoid care due to cost.
Privately and publicly insured individuals who have low incomes or functional impairments encounter significant financial barriers to care despite having health insurance. Proposals to expand health insurance will need to address these barriers in order to be effective.
health care affordability; insurance coverage; low-income populations; functional impairment
McDonough’s perspective on healthcare reform in the US provides a clear, coherent analysis of the mix of access and delivery reforms in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare. As noted by McDonough, this major reform bill is designed to expand access for health coverage that includes both prevention and treatment benefits among uninsured Americans. Additionally, this legislation includes several financial strategies (e.g. incentives and penalties) to improve care coordination and quality in the hospital and outpatient settings while also reducing healthcare spending and costs. This commentary is intended to discuss this mix of access and delivery reform in terms of its potential to achieve the Triple Aim: population health, quality, and costs. Final remarks will include the role of the US federal government to reform the American private health industry together with that of an informed consume
US Healthcare Reform; Obamacare; Affordable Care Act (ACA); Healthcare Exchanges; Triple Aim
American health plans can make a substantial contribution to the control of cardiometabolic risk (CMR), a condition associated with both adverse health outcomes and increased cost of care. Our goal was to determine health plan interest in and ability to provide CMR control services.
In January 2008, America's Health Insurance Plans, in collaboration with the HealthPartners Research Foundation, surveyed the chief medical officers of 74 member health insurance plans that offer commercial health maintenance organization, point of service, and preferred provider organization insurance. The response rate was 47%.
The 35 responding chief medical officers reported that their plans identify members with CMR through referral from case or care management (89%), health risk assessment data (86%), claims data (82%), and pharmaceutical use data (79%). Nearly all (97%) plans currently offer interventions for tobacco use, obesity/overweight, and nutrition. Ninety-four percent of plans offer interventions to increase physical activity. All plans offer health risk appraisal or assessment with feedback and education, 91% use Web-based tools, and 85% use health coaching to help plan members lower their risk. Perceived barriers to broader implementation of risk control programs included lack of resources (79%), limited available enrollee data (74%), and lack of reporting systems (79%). Few health plan officers viewed lack of purchaser interest to be a barrier to program implementation.
Health plans appear to be positioned to provide CMR control services that could improve health outcomes, reduce health care costs, and increase workplace productivity in the United States.
The Government of the Republic of Kenya is in the process of implementing health care reforms. However, poor knowledge about costs of health care services is perceived as a major obstacle towards evidence-based, effective and efficient health care reforms. Against this background, the Ministry of Health of Kenya in cooperation with its development partners conducted a comprehensive costing exercise and subsequently developed the Kenya Health Sector Costing Model in order to fill this data gap.
Based on standard methodology of costing of health care services in developing countries, standard questionnaires and analyses were employed in 207 health care facilities representing different trustees (e.g. Government, Faith Based/Nongovernmental, private-for-profit organisations), levels of care and regions (urban, rural). In addition, a total of 1369 patients were randomly selected and asked about their demand-sided costs. A standard step-down costing methodology was applied to calculate the costs per service unit and per diagnosis of the financial year 2006/2007.
The total costs of essential health care services in Kenya were calculated as 690 million Euros or 18.65 Euro per capita. 54% were incurred by public sector facilities, 17% by Faith Based and other Nongovernmental facilities and 23% in the private sector. Some 6% of the total cost is due to the overall administration provided directly by the Ministry and its decentralised organs. Around 37% of this cost is absorbed by salaries and 22% by drugs and medical supplies. Generally, costs of lower levels of care are lower than of higher levels, but health centres are an exemption. They have higher costs per service unit than district hospitals.
The results of this study signify that the costs of health care services are quite high compared with the Kenyan domestic product, but a major share are fixed costs so that an increasing coverage does not necessarily increase the health care costs proportionally. Instead, productivity will rise in particular in under-utilized private health care institutions. The results of this study also show that private-for-profit health care facilities are not only the luxurious providers catering exclusively for the rich but also play an important role in the service provision for the poorer population. The study findings also demonstrated a high degree of cost variability across private providers, suggesting differences in quality and efficiencies.
To determine the impact of rising health insurance premiums on coverage rates.
Data Sources & Study Setting
Our analysis is based on two cohorts of nonelderly Americans residing in 64 large metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) surveyed in the Current Population Survey in 1989–1991 and 1998–2000. Measures of premiums are based on data from the Health Insurance Association of America and the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research and Educational Trust Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits.
Probit regression and instrumental variable techniques are used to estimate the association between rising local health insurance costs and the falling propensity for individuals to have any health insurance coverage, controlling for a rich array of economic, demographic, and policy covariates.
More than half of the decline in coverage rates experienced over the 1990s is attributable to the increase in health insurance premiums (2.0 percentage points of the 3.1 percentage point decline). Medicaid expansions led to a 1 percentage point increase in coverage. Changes in economic and demographic factors had little net effect. The number of people uninsured could increase by 1.9–6.3 million in the decade ending 2010 if real, per capita medical costs increase at a rate of 1–3 percentage points, holding all else constant.
Initiatives aimed at reducing the number of uninsured must confront the growing pressure on coverage rates generated by rising costs.
Health care costs; health insurance coverage; health care spending growth; uninsured; insurance premiums
Twenty-five years ago, private insurance plans were introduced into the Medicare program with the stated dual aims of (1) giving beneficiaries a choice of health insurance plans beyond the fee-for-service Medicare program and (2) transferring to the Medicare program the efficiencies and cost savings achieved by managed care in the private sector.
In this article we review the economic history of Medicare Part C, known today as Medicare Advantage, focusing on the impact of major changes in the program’s structure and of plan payment methods on trends in the availability of private plans, plan enrollment, and Medicare spending. Additionally, we compare the experience of Medicare Advantage and of employer-sponsored health insurance with managed care over the same time period.
Beneficiaries’ access to private plans has been inconsistent over the program’s history, with higher plan payments resulting in greater choice and enrollment and vice versa. But Medicare Advantage generally has cost more than the traditional Medicare program, an overpayment that has increased in recent years.
Major changes in Medicare Advantage’s payment rules are needed in order to simultaneously encourage the participation of private plan, the provision of high-quality care, and to save Medicare money.
Medicare; managed care; health care costs
This article considers some of the effects of health sector reform on human resources for health (HRH) in developing countries and countries in transition by examining the effect of fiscal reform and the introduction of decentralisation and market mechanisms to the health sector.
Fiscal reform results in pressure to measure the staff outputs of the health sector. Financial decentralisation often leads to hospitals becoming "corporatised" institutions, operating with business principles but remaining in the public sector. The introduction of market mechanisms often involves the formation of an internal market within the health sector and market testing of different functions with the private sector. This has immediate implications for the employment of health workers in the public sector, because the public sector may reduce its workforce if services are purchased from other sectors or may introduce more short-term and temporary employment contracts.
Decentralisation of budgets and administrative functions can affect the health sector, often in negative ways, by reducing resources available and confusing lines of accountability for health workers. Governance and regulation of health care, when delivered by both public and private providers, require new systems of regulation.
The increase in private sector provision has led health workers to move to the private sector. For those remaining in the public sector, there are often worsening working conditions, a lack of employment security and dismantling of collective bargaining agreements.
Human resource development is gradually being recognised as crucial to future reforms and the formulation of health policy. New information systems at local and regional level will be needed to collect data on human resources. New employment arrangements, strengthening organisational culture, training and continuing education will also be needed.
With an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 15%, Namibia is in need of innovative health financing strategies that can alleviate the burden on the public sector. Affordable and private health insurances were recently developed in Namibia, and they include coverage for HIV/AIDS. This article reports on the efficacy of HIV workplace surveys as a tool to increase uptake of these insurances by employees in the Namibian formal business sector. In addition, the burden of HIV among this population was examined by sector.
Cross-sectional anonymous HIV prevalence surveys were conducted in 24 private companies in Namibia between November 2006 and December 2007. Non-invasive oral fluid-based HIV antibody rapid tests were used. Anonymous test results were provided to the companies in a confidential report and through presentations to their management, during which the advantages of affordable private health insurance and the available insurance products were discussed. Impact assessment was conducted in October 2008, when new health insurance uptake by these companies was evaluated.
Of 8500 targeted employees, 6521 were screened for HIV; mean participation rate was 78.6%. Overall 15.0% (95% CI 14.2-15.9%) of employees tested HIV positive (range 3.0-23.9% across companies). The mining sector had the highest percentage of HIV-positive employees (21.0%); the information technology (IT) sector had the lowest percentage (4.0%). Out of 6205 previously uninsured employees, 61% had enrolled in private health insurance by October 2008. The majority of these new insurances (78%) covered HIV/AIDS only.
The proportion of HIV-positive formal sector employees in Namibia is in line with national prevalence estimates and varies widely by employment sector. Following the surveys, there was a considerable increase in private health insurance uptake. This suggests that anonymous HIV workplace surveys can serve as a tool to motivate private companies to provide health insurance to their workforce. Health insurance taken up by those who are able to pay the fees will alleviate the burden on the public sector.
Complementary and alternative medicine services in the United States are an approximately $9 billion market each year, equal to 3 percent of national ambulatory health care expenditures. Unlike conventional allopathic health care, complementary and alternative medicine is primarily paid for out of pocket, although some services are covered by most health insurance. Examining trends in demand for complementary and alternative medicine services in the United States reported in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey during 2002–08, we found that use of and spending on these services, previously on the rise, have largely plateaued. The higher proportion of out-of-pocket responsibility for payment for services may explain the lack of growth. Our findings suggest that any attempt to reduce national health care spending by eliminating coverage for complementary and alternative medicine would have little impact at best. Should some forms of complementary and alternative medicine—for example, chiropractic care for back pain—be proven more efficient than allopathic and specialty medicine, the inclusion of complementary and alternative medicine providers in new delivery systems such as accountable care organizations could help slow growth in national health care spending.
California's drastic Medi-Cal reforms have created great difficulties in health care for the poor. Patients' clinical problems seldom are apparent in descriptions of changes in public insurance programs. Rapidly escalating costs of Medi-Cal led to irresistible pressures for reform, especially from the business community. The new Medi-Cal regulations provide for prospective contracts with hospitals for inpatient services, the transfer of “Medically Indigent Adults” to the responsibility of county governments and various other straightforward funding cutbacks. Confusion, disruption of services and adverse health outcomes have accompanied the Medi-Cal reforms.
Massachusetts’ health care reform substantially decreased the percentage of uninsured residents. However, less is known about how reform affected access to care, especially according to insurance type.
To assess access to care in Massachusetts after implementation of health care reform, based on insurance status and type.
DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS
We surveyed a convenience sample of 431 patients presenting to the Emergency Department of Massachusetts’ second largest safety net hospital between July 25, 2009 and March 20, 2010.
Demographic and clinical characteristics, insurance coverage, measures of access to care and cost-related barriers to care.
Patients with Commonwealth Care and Medicaid, the two forms of insurance most often newly-acquired under the reform, reported similar or higher utilization of and access to outpatient visits and rates of having a usual source of care, compared with the privately insured. Compared with the privately insured, a significantly higher proportion of patients with Medicaid or Commonwealth Care Type 1 (minimal cost sharing) reported delaying or not getting dental care (42.2 % vs. 27.1 %) or medication (30.0 % vs. 7.0 %) due to cost; those with Medicaid also experienced cost-related barriers to seeing a specialist (14.6 % vs. 3.5 %) or getting recommended tests (15.6 % vs. 5.9 %). Those with Commonwealth Care Types 2 and 3 (greater cost sharing) reported significantly more cost-related barriers to obtaining care than the privately insured (45.0 % vs. 16.0 %), to seeing a primary care doctor (25.0 % vs. 6.0 %) or dental provider (58.3 % vs. 27.1 %), and to obtaining medication (20.8 % vs. 7.0 %). No differences in cost-related barriers to preventive care were found between the privately and publicly insured.
Access to care improved less than access to insurance following Massachusetts’ health care reform. Many newly insured residents obtained Medicaid or state subsidized private insurance; cost-related barriers to access were worse for these patients than for the privately insured.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-012-2173-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
access to care; health insurance; health disparities; health care reform; health care policy
Everyone agrees that insurance for long-term care is inadequate in the United States. Disagreement exists, however, on whether such insurance should be provided through the private or public sector. Private insurance generally uses the experience-rating principle that persons with higher risk of illness are charged higher premiums. For private insurance for long-term care, this principle creates a dilemma. Most policies will be purchased by the elderly; yet, because the elderly have a high risk of needing long-term care, only about 20% of them can afford the cost of premiums. A public-private partnership by which the government partially subsidizes private long-term-care insurance is unlikely to resolve this dilemma. Only a social insurance program for long-term care can provide universal, affordable, and equitable coverage.
To describe the association between type of health insurance coverage and the quality of care provided to individuals with diabetes in the United States.
The 2000 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Our study cohort included individuals who reported a diagnosis of diabetes (n=11,647). We performed bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses by age greater or less than 65 years to examine the association of health insurance coverage with diabetes-specific quality of care measures, controlling for the effects of race/ethnicity, annual income, gender, education, and insulin use.
Most individuals with diabetes are covered by private insurance (39 percent) or Medicare (44 percent). Among persons under the age of 65 years, 11 percent were uninsured. The uninsured were more likely to be African American or Hispanic and report low incomes. The uninsured were less likely to report annual dilated eye exams, foot examinations, or hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) tests and less likely to perform daily blood glucose monitoring than those with private health insurance. We found few differences in quality indicators between Medicare, Medicaid, or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as compared with private insurance coverage. Persons who received care through the VA were more likely to report taking a diabetes education class and HbA1c testing than those covered by private insurance.
Uninsured adults with diabetes are predominantly minority and low income and receive fewer preventive services than individuals with health insurance. Among the insured, different types of health insurance coverage appear to provide similar levels of care, except for higher rates of diabetes education and HbA1c testing at the VA.
Quality of care; health insurance; diabetes
Uganda is proposing introduction of the National Health Insurance scheme (NHIS) in a phased manner with the view to obtaining additional funding for the health sector and promoting financial risk protection. In this paper, we have assessed the proposed NHIS from an equity perspective, exploring the extent to which NHIS would improve existing disparities in the health sector.
We reviewed the proposed design and other relevant documents that enhanced our understanding of contextual issues. We used the Kutzin and fair financing frameworks to critically assess the impact of NHIS on overall equity in financing in Uganda.
The introduction of NHIS is being proposed against the backdrop of inequalities in the distribution of health system inputs between rural and urban areas, different levels of care and geographic areas. In this assessment, we find that gradual implementation of NHIS will result in low coverage initially, which might pose a challenge for effective management of the scheme. The process for accreditation of service providers during the first phase is not explicit on how it will ensure that a two-tier service provision arrangement does not emerge to cater for different types of patients. If the proposed fee-for-service mechanism of reimbursing providers is pursued, utilisation patterns will determine how resources are allocated. This implies that equity in resource allocation will be determined by the distribution of accredited providers, and checks put in place to prohibit frivolous use. The current design does not explicitly mention how these two issues will be tackled. Lastly, there is no clarity on how the NHIS will fit into, and integrate within existing financing mechanisms.
Under the current NHIS design, the initial low coverage in the first years will inhibit optimal achievement of the important equity characteristics of pooling, cross-subsidisation and financial protection. Depending on the distribution of accredited providers and utilisation patterns, the NHIS could worsen existing disparities in access to services, given the fee-for-service reimbursement mechanisms currently proposed. Lastly, if equity in financing and resource allocation are not explicit objectives of the NHIS, it might inadvertently worsen the existing disparities in service provision.