Health improves for vulnerable populations when out-of-pocket costs are lower

In a review of 17 studies from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), researchers have found that patient outcomes improved, especially for children and low-income groups, when out-of-pocket medical expenses were reduced.

The authors said the findings highlight the importance for LMICs of moving away from user charges to finance health coverage and relying more on prepayment mechanisms such as taxation and insurance.

“User fees hinder equitable access and worsen health outcomes,” said Rifat Atun, professor of global health systems at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a co-author of the paper, in a January 14, 2019 article in Medical Xpress. “Reducing user charges is likely to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities in low- and middle-income countries, and must be a priority action for universal health coverage.”

Read the Medical Xpress article: Reducing out of pocket health costs associated with better population health: study