Health insurance is important in improving maternal health service utilization in Tanzania-analysis of the 2011/2012 Tanzania HIV/AIDS and malaria indicator survey.

Dr. Stephen Kibusi, RN, MA PhD
Dr. Stephen Kibusi, RN, MA PhD
The University of Dodoma
Dean, School of Nursing and Public Health
Dodoma, Dodoma | Tanzania, United Republic of

BMC Health Serv Res 2018 02 13;18(1):112. Epub 2018 Feb 13.

School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of Dodoma, Dodoma, Tanzania.

Background: Maternal mortality rates vary significantly from region to region. Interventions such as early and planned antenatal care attendance and facility delivery with skilled health workers can potentially reduce maternal mortality rates. Several factors can be attributed to antenatal care attendance, or lack thereof, including the cost of health care services. The aim of this study was to examine the role of health insurance coverage in utilization of maternal health services in Tanzania.

Methods: Secondary data analysis was conducted on the nationally representative sample of men and women aged 15-49 years using the 2011/12 Tanzania HIV and Malaria Indicator Survey. It included 4513 women who had one or more live births within three years before the survey. The independent variable was health insurance coverage. Outcome variables included proper timing of the first antenatal care visit, completing the recommended number of antenatal care (ANC) visits, and giving birth under skilled worker. Data were analyzed both descriptively and using regression analyses to examine independent association of health insurance and maternal health services.

Results: Of 4513 women, only 281 (6.2%) had health insurance. Among all participants, only 16.9%, 7.1%, and 56.5%, respectively, made their first ANC visit as per recommendation, completed the recommended number of ANC visits, and had skilled birth assistance at delivery. A higher proportion of women with health insurance had a proper timing of 1st ANC attendance compared to their counterparts (27.0% vs. 16.0%, p < 0.001). Similar trend was for skilled birth attendance (77.6% vs. 55.1%, p < 0.001). After adjusting for other confounders and covariates, having health insurance was associated with proper timing of 1st ANC attendance (AOR = 1.89, p < 0.001) and skilled birth attendance (AOR = 2.01, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: Health insurance coverage and maternal health services were low in this nationally representative sample in Tanzania. Women covered by health insurance were more likely to have proper timing of the first antenatal visit and receive skilled birth assistance at delivery. To improve maternal health, health insurance alone is however not enough. It is important to improve other pillars of health system to attain and sustain better maternal health in Tanzania and areas with similar contexts.

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February 2018
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