Does community-based health insurance affect lifestyle and timing of treatment seeking behavior? Evidence from Ethiopia

Zecharias Fetene Anteneh*, Anagaw D. Mebratie, Zemzem Shigute, Getnet Alemu, Arjun S. Bedi

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objectives: This paper aims to investigate the effects of enrollment in the Ethiopian community-based health insurance (CBHI) scheme on household preventive care activities and the timing of treatment-seeking behavior for illness symptoms. There is growing concern about the financial sustainability of CBHI schemes in developing countries. However, few empirical studies have identified potential contributors, including ex-ante and ex-post moral hazards. Methods: We implement a household fixed-effect panel data regression model, drawing on three rounds of household survey data collected face to face in districts where CBHI scheme is operational and in districts where it is not operational in Ethiopia. Results: The findings show that enrolment in CBHI does not significantly influence household behaviour regarding preventive care activities such as water treatment before drinking and handwashing before meals. However, CBHI significantly increases delay in treatment-seeking behaviour for diseases symptoms. Particularly, on average, we estimate about 4‒6 h delay for malaria symptoms, a little above 4 h for tetanus, and 10‒11 h for tuberculosis among the insured households. Conclusions: While there is evidence that CBHI improve the utilization of outpatient or primary care services, our study suggests that insured members may wait longer before visiting health facilities. This delay could be partly due to moral hazard problems, as insured households, particularly those from rural areas, may consider the opportunity costs associated with visiting health facilities for minor symptoms. Overall, it is essential to identify the primary causes of delays in seeking medical services and implement appropriate interventions to encourage insured individuals to seek early medical attention.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Health Journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2024

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