Costs of utilizing healthcare services in Chakaria, a rural area in Bangladesh

Costs of utilizing healthcare services in Chakaria, a rural area in Bangladesh

Economic consequences of healthcare utilization in rural Bangladesh

What is the cost of health care services? With an overwhelming majority of the population in Bangladesh living below the poverty threshold, this is an important question. The authors argue that the perceived costs associated with the different health care options are probably important factors determining health care seeking behaviour. This research brief, by Future Health Systems, examines the economic consequences of health care utilisation in rural Bangladesh.

The authors report that that the total amount spent as well as per capita direct cost (which includes fees, transport) for health care was largest for care sought from qualified medical physicians than other health care providers in the informal sector. Also, the average number of workdays lost was nearly 1.5 times more for respondents being treated by a qualified professional than any other type of practitioner. In fact, the authors find that the average direct costs involved for a medical doctor is much more than the minimum threshold defined as representing catastrophic costs – implying that cost of treatment is an important deterrent of access to qualified health care providers.

Survey findings show that costs of medicine constitute a major proportion of health care expenditure for all types of practitioners. Examining health care cost by socioeconomic status, the authors find that per capita health care cost for the poorest quintile was substantial, indicating that costs incurred for health care is regressive and places an unfair burden on the poorest households.

In conclusion, the authors observed that 40% of those who did not seek treatment said that it was because they did not have the money to consult a health care provider. Finally, the authors argue that severity of illness determines the source of care since people would prefer to consult a qualified medical physician if the illness is perceived to be serious, and cost of treatment is a major factor determining the choice of health care provider.

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