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Financial risk protection in health care in Bangladesh in the era of Universal Health Coverage

Raza, S., Rahman, T., Gasbarro, D. and Alam, K. (2022) Financial risk protection in health care in Bangladesh in the era of Universal Health Coverage. PLoS ONE, 17 (6). Art. e0269113.

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Ensuring financial risk protection in health care and achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030 is one of the crucial Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets for many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Bangladesh. We examined the critical trajectory of financial risk protection against out-of-pocket (OOP) health expenditure in Bangladesh.


Using Bangladesh Household Income and Expenditure Survey data from 2005, 2010, and 2016, we examined the levels and distributions of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) and impoverishment incidences. We used the normative food, housing, and utilities method, refining it by categorizing households with zero OOP expenses by reasons.


OOP expenditure doubled between 2005 and 2016 (USD 115.6 in 2005, USD 162.1 in 2010, USD 242.9 in 2016), accompanied by rising CHE (11.5% in 2005, 11.9% in 2010, 16.6% in 2016) and impoverishment incidence (1.5% in 2005, 1.6% in 2010, 2.3% in 2016). While further impoverishment of the poor households due to OOP expenditure (3.6% in 2005, 4.1% in 2010, 3.9% in 2016) was a more severe problem than impoverishment of the non-poor, around 5.5% of non-poor households were always at risk of impoverishment. The poorest households were the least financially protected throughout the study period (lowest vs. highest quintile CHE: 29.5% vs. 7.6%, 33.2% vs. 7.2%, and 37.6% vs. 13.0% in 2005, 2010, and 2016, respectively). The disparity in CHE among households with and without chronic illness was also remarkable in 2016 (25.0% vs. 9.1%).


Financial risk protection in Bangladesh exhibits a deteriorated trajectory from 2005 to 2016, posing a significant challenge to achieving UHC and, thus, the SDGs by 2030. The poorest and chronically ill households disproportionately lacked financial protection. Reversing the worsening trends of CHE and impoverishment and addressing the inequities in their distributions calls for implementing UHC and thus providing financial protection against illness.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Murdoch Business School
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2022 Rahman et al.
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