The study assessed Cameroonians’ participation in public health care services in order to grasp the distributional effects of those services. Three specific objectives are specified: determine the extent to which public spending on health care may constitute a targeted means for poverty reduction; identify the determinants of participation in health care services in general and in public services in particular; and propose alternative health care policies compatible with the government’s concern for poverty alleviation. In a benefit incidence analysis, it is shown that the benefits acquired from using publicly funded health care services are globally progressive. Integrated health care centres are chosen because of their nearness. Households appreciate the quality of services provided at the peripheral health care centres. Private health care is chosen because of the quality of the service, and people go to traditional healers or resort to self-medication because of the low cost. The majority of the considered factors – cost, nearness, revenue, education, age, gender and illness – had the expected sign and significantly affect the choice of health care providers. But for educated individuals who are employed in the formal sector, nearness and cost are the key variables in the design of health care policies.