, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 320-327

Burden of Healthcare Utilization and Out-of-Pocket Costs Among Individuals with NCDs in an Indian Setting

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Abstract

Non communicable diseases (NCDs) are now the major cause of death and disability worldwide. It increasingly affects people from developing as well as developed countries. Over the coming decades the burden from NCDs is projected to rise particularly fast in the developing world. There is a lack of optimal data collection about the burden of risk factors related to NCDs especially in the developing countries. To assess the burden of healthcare utilization and out-of-pocket costs associated with NCDs in an Indian setting. A cross sectional study was performed to enroll a convenient sample of 166 participants aged 18 years and above from a tertiary hospital in Punjab, a Northern state of India. The data was gathered during the period of Feb 2010–April 2010. A mixed methods approach was used to assess the burden of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and their associated risk factors. Further we evaluated the burden of healthcare utilization and out-of-pocket costs associated with these conditions using self-reported assessments. Results showed the average age of the participants was 50 years, 63 % (n = 104) were females, 32 % (n = 53) had education less than high school and 20 % (n = 33) had no formal education. About 96 % of the study participants were living with a partner. Majority of the study participants were non-smokers and 17 % (n = 27) of them reported to have history of alcohol consumption. The majority of the participants had access to cell phones (94 %; n = 156) and about 40 % (n = 66) had computers at home. About 33 % (n = 55) of the study participants had some form of previous knowledge of computers. Majority of the study participants went to the private hospital (47.5 %) for seeking healthcare. About 32 % (n = 53) also sought healthcare from some kind of healthcare professional including a primary care doctor or a nurse or even a pharmacist in a village setting. Doctor visits related to diabetes were higher as compared to the individuals either with hypertension or high cholesterol. However; the out-of-pocket costs of the visit to the healthcare professional were much higher for hypertension than for diabetes or high cholesterol. A strengthened surveillance system, effective inter-sectoral action, and improved access to basic healthcare are pivotal to prevent NCDs. A multifaceted NCDs surveillance system could help us measure the burden of risk factors, its associated health care utilization and out of pocket costs, and further facilitate interventions that can guide evidence based decision making.