DOI: 10.1177/27551938241230761 ISSN: 2755-1938

An Examination of Inter-State Variation in Utilization of Healthcare Services, Associated Financial Burden and Inequality: Evidence from Nationally Representative Survey in India

Aashima, Rajesh Sharma

This study examines the health care utilization pattern, associated financial catastrophes, and inequality across Indian states to understand the subnational variations and aid the policy makers in this regard. Data from recent National Sample Survey (2017–2018), titled, “Household Social Consumption: Health,” covering 113,823 households, was employed in the study. Descriptive statistics, Erreygers concentration index (CI), and recentered influence function decomposition were applied in the study. We found that, in India, 7 percent of households experienced catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) and 1.9 percent of households were pushed below poverty line due to out-of-pocket expenditure on hospitalization. Notably, outpatient care was more burdensome (CHE: 12.1%; impoverishment: 4%). Substantial interstate variations were observed, with high financial burden in poorer states. Utilization of health care services from private health care providers was pro-rich (hospitalization CI 0.31; outpatient CI 0.10), while the occurrence of CHE incidence was pro-poor (hospitalization CI −0.10; outpatient CI −0.14). Education level, economic status, health insurance, and area of residence contributed significantly to inequalities in utilization of health care services from private providers and financial burden. The high financial burden of seeking health care necessitates the need to increase public health spending and strengthen public health infrastructure. Also, concerted efforts directed towards increasing awareness about health insurance and introducing comprehensive health insurance products (covering both inpatient and outpatient services) are imperative to augment financial risk protection in India.

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