Characteristics of receipt rate of financial aid for intractable disease patients in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.
The data on intractable disease patients who applied for official financial aid for medical treatment in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, in fiscal year 1997 were analyzed. In addition, to assess the nonapplied patients, a questionnaire on intractable disease patients with disabilities needing assistance was sent to all medical institutions in the prefecture. The results suggest that the low receipt rate of financial aid in Gifu Prefecture results from both nonapplication by patients and underdiagnosis at medical institutions. Percent completion of medical treatment for intractable disease patients in a single secondary medical service area was low. Although the percentage of patients with disabilities authorized to receive financial aid was 4.6%, the estimated ratio of patients with disabilities needing assistance exceeded this value. Therefore, the dissemination of information on official services for patients and medical care facilities must be strengthened. (+info)
Health for some? The effects of user fees in the Volta Region of Ghana.
This paper reports key findings and conclusions from a 1996 study of user fees and exemptions in the Volta Region of Ghana. A variety of data sources and methods were used, including interviews with patients and managers, community-based focus group discussions, analysis of facility records and analyses of previous household survey data. Official fee levels and exemption categories were established in 1985. While this legislation made provision for drug fees to be 'at cost' and thus to be revised in line with inflation, other official fees have not been adjusted since 1985. In the face of declining real levels of budget allocations and decreased supplies of essential consumables from the Central medical stores, facility managers have established their own pricing and fee collection systems. This has been allowed by the Ministry of Health, but the decentralized nature of fee setting and collection practices has made it very difficult for the Ministry to monitor the effects of fees. The study found that facility managers have been very active in setting and collecting fees and using the revenues to purchase essential inputs. The level of revenues being mobilized accounts for between two-thirds and four-fifths of the non-salary operating budget of government health facilities, and virtually all of the resources for non-salary operating expenses in mission hospitals. Official exemptions are largely non-functional. Less than one in 1000 patient contacts were granted exemption in 1995. With estimates that between 15 and 30% of the population lives in poverty, the failure of exemptions to function means that fees are preventing access for the poor, or are imposing significant financial hardships on this part of the population. Health facilities in the Volta Region have achieved a kind of 'sustainable inequity', with fees enabling service provision to continue, while concurrently preventing part of the population from using these services. (+info)
HIV: challenging the health care delivery system.
HIV offers a lens through which the underlying problems of the US health care system can be examined. New treatments offer the potential of prolonged quality of life for people living with HIV if they have adequate access to health care. However, increasing numbers of new cases of HIV occur among individuals with poor access to health care. Restrictions on eligibility for Medicaid (and state-by-state variability) contribute to uneven access to the most important safety net source of HIV care financing, while relatively modest discretionary programs attempt to fill in the gap with an ever-increasing caseload. Many poor people with HIV are going without care, even though aggregate public spending on HIV-related care will total $7.7 billion in fiscal year 2000, an amount sufficient to cover the care costs of one half of those living with HIV. But inefficiencies and inequities in the system (both structural and geographic) require assessment of the steps that can be taken to create a more rational model of care financing for people living with HIV that could become a model for all chronic diseases. (+info)
Perceived access problems among patients with diabetes in two public systems of care.
OBJECTIVE: We examined the prevalence of access problems among public clinic patients after participating in trials of automated telephone disease management with nurse follow-up. DESIGN: Randomized trial. SETTING: General medicine clinics of a county health care system and a Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system. PARTICIPANTS: Five hundred seventy adults with diabetes using hypoglycemic medication were enrolled and randomized; 520 (91%) provided outcome data at 12 months. INTERVENTION: Biweekly automated telephone assessments with telephone follow-up by diabetes nurse educators. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: At follow-up, patients reported whether in the prior 6 months they had failed to obtain each of six types of health services because of a financial or nonfinancial access problem. Patients receiving the intervention were significantly less likely than patients receiving usual care to report access problems (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43 to 0.97). The risk of reporting access problems was greater among county clinic patients than VA patients even when adjusting for their experimental condition, and socioeconomic and clinical risk factors (AOR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.02 to 2.53). County patients were especially more likely to avoid seeking care because of a worry about the cost (AOR, 2.82; 95% CI, 1.48 to 5.37). CONCLUSIONS: Many of these public sector patients with diabetes reported that they failed to obtain health services because they perceived financial and nonfinancial access problems. Automated telephone disease management calls with telephone nurse follow-up improved patients' access to care. Despite the impact of the intervention, county clinic patients were more likely than VA patients to report access problems in several areas. (+info)
Increments toward what?
Incremental proposals to expand health insurance coverage, such as expansions of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) or creation of new tax credits, should be examined for the values that underlie them and for how they structure future options for additional incremental coverage expansions. This paper examines five design issues in incremental reform: who determines coverage options for the newly insured; what risk pool do they enter; what is the government's contribution toward their coverage; what barriers are created by efforts to encourage efficiency; and how are issues of federalism handled? Tax credits are a departure from past approaches, while an SCHIP expansion is a continuation of current policy directions. (+info)
Expanding coverage: reflections on recent efforts.
This paper focuses on the major health care initiatives and proposals that policymakers have enacted or considered since 1980 and describes what we can learn from these efforts to expand coverage. Most proposals have focused on incremental strategies, through expansion of public programs or tax incentives for the purchase of private coverage, although universal proposals have also emerged. Incremental approaches, which seem more politically feasible, still involve complex policy trade-offs. Efforts to improve take-up rates of public and private insurance could greatly expand coverage as well. (+info)
Reproductive health services for adolescents under the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
CONTEXT: The federal government enacted the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997 to provide insurance coverage to uninsured, low-income children up to age 19. Individual states' decisions when designing their CHIP efforts will in large part determine the extent to which the program will help the nation's nearly three million low-income uninsured adolescents get needed reproductive health services. METHODS: CHIP administrators in all states and the District of Columbia were sent a survey concerning reproductive health services for adolescents aged 13-18 provided under their state's CHIP effort. The questionnaire asked about services covered, information provided to adolescents, confidentiality, outreach and enrollment activities, managed care and performance measures. RESULTS: Of the 46 respondents to the survey, 29 states and the District of Columbia included a Medicaid component to their CHIP effort, and 28 states included a state-designed component. Overall, states provided relatively comprehensive coverage of reproductive health services, with all 58 CHIP programs covering routine gynecologic care, screening for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing. Fifty-four covered the full range of the most commonly used prescription contraceptive methods, although only 43 covered emergency contraception. Twenty of 58 CHIP programs required that adolescents be provided with information about coverage for the full range of reproductive health services, and 18 required that information be provided about accessing care. Seventeen programs reported guarantees of confidentiality before and after receipt of reproductive health care. In 26 programs, enrollees in managed care were guaranteed access to contraceptive services through out-of-network providers. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia reported targeting outreach activities specifically to adolescents, and 41 states and the District of Columbia stated that they provide outreach materials at middle schools, high schools and community-based organizations serving teenagers. CONCLUSIONS: Despite their nearly comprehensive coverage of reproductive health services, programs were inconsistent in guaranteeing the information, confidentiality and flexibility in choosing providers that is critical to adolescents' ability to access care. In addition, many states failed to creatively use strategies to target uninsured adolescents for enrollment, although new initiatives are under way to correct this problem. (+info)
Keeping the unemployed healthy: the effect of means-tested and entitlement benefits in Britain, Germany, and the United States.
OBJECTIVES: Although considerable evidence about the health effects of unemployment exists, little is known about the possible protective effects of various social interventions. This study examined the role that means-tested and entitlement programs could have in ameliorating the health impact of unemployment in Britain, Germany, and the United States. METHODS: Logistic regression models were used to analyze panel data from Britain (1991-1993), Germany (1991-1993), and the United States (1985-1987) available in the Household Panel Comparability Project database. The analysis included 8,726 respondents from Britain, 11,086 from Germany, and 11,668 from the United States. The health-dependent variable used was a single measure of perceived health status. RESULTS: Evidence was found of differences in perceived health status between groups of unemployed people characterized by the types of benefits they receive. When socioeconomic characteristics and previous health and employment status are controlled for, means-tested benefits do not seem sufficient to reduce the impact of unemployment on health. CONCLUSIONS: Monitoring the possible health effects of changes in public assistance benefits should be given priority in the research and political agenda. (+info)