The impact of health insurance on maternal and reproductive health service utilization and financial protection in low- and lower middle-income countries : a systematic review of the evidence
Background Low- and middle-income countries have committed to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) as a means to enhance access to services and improve financial protection. One of the key health financing reforms to achieve UHC is the introduction or expansion of health insurance to enhance access to basic health services, including maternal and reproductive health care. However, there is a paucity of evidence of the extent to which these reforms have had impact on the main policy objectives of enhancing service utilization and financial protection. The aim of this systematic review is to assess the existing evidence on the causal impact of health insurance on maternal and reproductive health service utilization and financial protection in low- and lower middle-income countries.Methods The review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The search included six databases: Medline, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane, CINAHL, and Scopus as of 23rd May 2023. The keywords included health insurance, impact, utilisation, financial protection, and maternal and reproductive health. The search was followed by independent title and abstract screening and full text review by two reviewers using the Covidence software. Studies published in English since 2010, which reported on the impact of health insurance on maternal and reproductive health utilisation and or financial protection were included in the review. The ROBINS-I tool was used to assess the quality of the included studies.Results A total of 17 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The majority of the studies (82.4%, n = 14) were nationally representative. Most studies found that health insurance had a significant positive impact on having at least four antenatal care (ANC) visits, delivery at a health facility and having a delivery assisted by a skilled attendant with average treatment effects ranging from 0.02 to 0.11, 0.03 to 0.34 and 0.03 to 0.23 respectively. There was no evidence that health insurance had increased postnatal care, access to contraception and financial protection for maternal and reproductive health services. Various maternal and reproductive health indicators were reported in studies. ANC had the greatest number of reported indicators (n = 10), followed by financial protection (n = 6), postnatal care (n = 5), and delivery care (n = 4). The overall quality of the evidence was moderate based on the risk of bias assessment.Conclusion The introduction or expansion of various types of health insurance can be a useful intervention to improve ANC (receiving at least four ANC visits) and delivery care (delivery at health facility and delivery assisted by skilled birth attendant) service utilization in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Implementation of health insurance could enable countries' progress towards UHC and reduce maternal mortality. However, more research using rigorous impact evaluation methods is needed to investigate the causal impact of health insurance coverage on postnatal care utilization, contraceptive use and financial protection both in the general population and by socioeconomic status.Trial registration This study was registered with Prospero (CRD42021285776).
Source (journal)
BMC health services research. - London
London : 2024
24 :1 (2024) , p. 1-20
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Publications with a UAntwerp address
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Web of Science
Creation 02.05.2024
Last edited 09.05.2024
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