Equity in Health Benefit Utilization and Financial Risk Protection in Outpatient and Inpatient Care: Baseline Survey of Two Socioeconomic Groups of a Pilot Primary Care Benefits Scheme in the Catchment Areas of a University-Based Health Facility
Background. Health inequities in the Philippines are driven by health workforce maldistribution and health system fragmentation. These can be addressed by strengthening primary care through central social health insurance (PhilHealth) coverage. However, high reported PhilHealth population coverage and health provider accreditation have not necessarily increased health benefit utilization or financial risk protection.
Objective. This study aims to examine the impact of an enhanced, comprehensive primary care benefits package at a university-based health facility. This paper reports baseline utilization of health services and health benefits, and out-of-pocket health spending in two socioeconomic strata of the catchment population, for outpatient and inpatient services.
Methods. A questionnaire-guided survey was done among randomly selected faculty (higher income group) and non-faculty (lower income group) employees to determine the frequencies and costs of using outpatient and inpatient health services, and amounts paid out-of-pocket.
Results. Annually, both groups had approximately 1 consultation/patient and about 15 hospitalizations per 100 families annually. For hospitalizations, non-faculty inpatients utilized health insurance more frequently than faculty inpatients (75.7% vs. 66.7%), but paid higher out-of-pocket proportions (73.3% or Php 92,479/hospitalization vs. 57.4% or Php 16,273/hospitalization). For outpatient care, health benefit utilization rates were higher among non-faculty (12.4% vs 2.1% of consultations) although low overall, with similar total (Php 2,319 vs Php 1,741) and out-of-pocket expenses (100%).
Conclusion. These findings confirm inequities in accessing outpatient and inpatient health services and utilizing health insurance benefits in the target population.