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Health spending is considered to be catastrophic when a household must reduce its basic expenditure over a period of time to cope with health costs. This is especially important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as the income loss can either be due to temporary reasons such as quarantine or job absenteeism or permanent causes like mortality or disability. In India, there isn't many studies that examine the financial burden of COVID-19 in individuals and families. Evidence on the scale of hospitalization expenditures would enable decision makers to optimize the allocation of scarce healthcare resources. With this background, this study was conducted as a cross-sectional study to primarily estimate the Out of Pocket (OOP) expenditure and the proportion of catastrophic health expenditures (CHE) among hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
The analysis of this study revealed that a total of 49.7% (95% CI 41.9, 58.1) of households incurred catastrophic health expenditure due to COVID 19 hospitalization. For the patients who underwent treatment in public sector institutions, 37.6% of households experienced catastrophic health expenditures. Whereas, for private sector hospitalizations the health expenditure was catastrophic for 64.3% of households. The study recommends, that the government should make an effort to scale up coverage and implementation of social health insurance programs to extend the social safety net. The findings from the study reiterated the need for such major reforms in health financing systems. Further research on the wider economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic would be essential for the attainment of universal health coverage in the context of unforeseen health crises across the world in the years to come.
To read the full paper, click the linked file.