Does the presence of health insurance and health facilities improve access to healthcare for major morbidities among Indigenous communities and older widows in India? Evidence from India Human Development Surveys I and II

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    Abstract

    In this paper, we examine whether access to treatment for major morbidity conditions is determined by the social class of the person who needs treatment. Secondly, we assess whether health insurance coverage and the presence of a PHC have any significant impact on the utilisation of health services, either public or private, for treatment and, more importantly, whether the presence of health insurance and PHC modify the treatment use behaviour for the two excluded communities of interest namely Indigenous communities and older widows using data from two rounds (2005 and 2012) of the nationally representative India Human Development Survey (IHDS). We estimated a multilevel mixed effects model with treatment for major morbidity as the outcome variable and social groups, older widows, the presence of a PHC and the survey wave as the main explanatory variables. The results confirmed access to treatment for major morbidity was affected by social class with Indigenous communities and older widows less likely to access treatment. Health insurance coverage did not have an effect that was large enough to induce a positive change in the likelihood of accessing treatment. The presence of a functional PHC increased the likelihood of treatment for all social groups except Indigenous communities. This is not surprising as Indigenous communities generally live in locations where the terrain is more challenging and decentralised healthcare up to the PHC might not work as effectively as it does for others. The social class to which one belongs has a significant impact on the ability of a person to access healthcare. Efforts to address inequity needs to take this into account and design interventions that are decentralised and planned with the involvement of local communities to be effective. Merely addressing one or two barriers to access in an isolated fashion will not lead to equitable access.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0281539
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume18
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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