Authors: Arnold Kihaule
The paper examines the impact of households’ membership in micro health insurance plans on the utilization of health services and protection against catastrophic health spending, when sick. Several scholars have analyzed socio-economic determinants of rural households demand for health insurance plans in Tanzania. Little attention has been given to the outcomes of purchasing health insurance plans, as determinants of membership in schemes. This is the gap this study seeks to fill.
Matching estimator method was used to analyze the outcome of membership in the micro health insurance plans using the data from Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey of 2011. It was also used to estimate the effect of membership in health insurance on the utilization of health services and protection against catastrophic health spending, when sick. A comparison of the utilization of health services among the members and non-members was also done.
The findings revealed that the membership in micro health insurance plans increased the utilization of the health services among the poor households, but not for the non poor. Moreover, insurance schemes did not provide protection against catastrophic health spending, when sick. The probable reasons are that households do not save while visiting health facilities and that the plans provide limited range of benefits to households.
Thus, it is recommended that the health facilities provide adequate supplies in order to minimize out of pocket spending for households, when ill. Also the government need to subsidize micro health insurance schemes so that they provide a wide range of services to members.
Keywords: micro health insurance, out of pocket payment, macthing estimator, rural households, Tanzania