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Community-Based Health Insurance and Access to Maternal Health Services: Evidence From Three West African Countries.

Smith K V, Sulzbach S.


June 1, 2008
Community-based health insurance (CBHI) has been incorporated into the health financing strategies of governments and communities in several Sub-Saharan African countries. Despite the support for and proliferation of CBHI schemes in this region, empirical evidence on how CBHI impacts access to health care, particularly maternal health services, is very limited. We use recent household surveys in three West African countries – Senegal, Mali, and Ghana – to examine the relationship between CBHI membership and access to formal sector maternal health care. We find that membership in a CBHI scheme is positively associated with the use of maternal health services, particularly in areas where utilization rates are very low and for more expensive delivery-related care. Our findings suggest, however, that membership in a CBHI scheme is not sufficient to influence maternal health behaviors – it is the inclusion of maternal health care in the benefits package that makes a difference. While many questions remain about CBHI, this study provides preliminary evidence suggesting that CBHI is a potential demand-side mechanism to increase maternal health care access. However, complementary supply-side interventions to improve quality of and geographic access to health care are also critical for improving health outcomes in this region
Sub-Saharan Africa