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Assessing financial protection in health: Does the choice of poverty line matter?

John Ataguba ()

Health Economics, 2021, vol. 30, issue 1, 186-193

Abstract: Financial protection in health is an essential aspect of the universal health coverage discourse. It is about ensuring that paying for health services does not affect the ability of households and individuals to afford necessities. A well‐known way to assess financial protection is whether or not people are pushed into—or further into—poverty by paying out‐of‐pocket for health services. Although impoverishment from out‐of‐pocket health spending is not an explicit indicator of the sustainable development goals, it has gained prominence among researchers and policymakers because of its intuitive appeal and link to overall poverty reduction. Using data from Nigeria, this paper demonstrates that the choice of poverty line matters for assessing the impoverishing effect of paying out‐of‐pocket for health services. Among other things, the inconsistencies (or lack of dominance) could occur in ranking impoverishment levels by mutually exclusive groups within a country or in ranking different countries or a country over time. The implication is that the choice of poverty line could lead to manipulation of results for policy and for supporting an agenda that demonstrates an improvement in financial protection when this may not necessarily be the case.

Date: 2021
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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:30:y:2021:i:1:p:186-193