Financial protection for the poor in Colombia: the effects of a subsidized health insurance scheme
Financial protection is one of the objectives of health systems, which protects poor households from falling into poverty as a result of health care related expenses. Expanding prepayment schemes to the poor is difficult in developing countries because labor is largely informal. Providing health care free-at-point-of-service does not adequately target spending on the poorest, but occupation- or community-based schemes have also inherent limitations to achieve universal coverage. Colombia adopted a government-subsidized health insurance scheme (SHI) strategy. The political debate about increasing SHI enrollment needs evidence about the effectiveness of this scheme regarding financial protection. This study runs a four-part model to estimate the effect of SHI on out-of-pocket expenses by the poor that are currently uninsured, if they were enrolled in the SHI. The results show a 43% and 50% reduction in expenses at Bogotá and national level respectively, which confirms the effectiveness of SHI as a financial protection tool.