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Out-of-pocket payment for health services: constraints and implications for government employees in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state, South east Nigeria

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Abstract:

Background: Each year, 100 million people are impoverished globally as a result of expenditure on health. Objective: To assess the constraints and implications of out-of-pocket payment for health services among government employees in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, south east Nigeria. Method: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study. The study instrument was a pre-tested, semi-structured self administered questionnaire. Results: Over half of the respondents (62.8 %) reported a history of illness in their household in the preceding four weeks before the study. Sixty-nine percent of these respondents relied on out-of-pocket payment in order to pay for health services at the moment of seeking medical treatment for themselves or their dependants; while 28.4 % and 2.6 % relied on a prepayment package (National Health Insurance Scheme) and borrowed money respectively to pay for health services at the moment of seeking medical treatment for themselves or their dependants. The vast majority of respondents (63.6 %) who relied on out-of-pocket payment reported their difficulties in accessing quality health care services as a result of financial hardship at the moment of seeking medical treatment. Most of them (47.7 %) resolved to self medication, while 28.4 %, 17.1 % and 6.8 % of them delayed seeking health care, patronized herbalists and ignored their illness respectively. Conclusion: This study brings to the fore the fact that most government employees and their dependants in Abakaliki have difficulties in accessing quality health care services via paying for them out-of-pocket.

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