Financial Hardship in Settling Medical Bills among Households in a Semi-Urban Community in Northwest Nigeria
Background: An equitable health care system that responds to the needs of its people is important to break the cycle of poverty and ill-health. However, rising health care cost, and the preponderance of user fees to finance health care have often limited access to needed health services.
Study Design: A cross-sectional descriptive study design was employed, using a pretested, semi-structured, intervieweradministered questionnaire.
Results: The study was carried out among 188 respondents. Majority (88.2%) of the respondents were within the agegroup 20-49 years, about two-thirds 63.8% were married and about half (42.8%) had family size between 5 and 9. The study revealed that about a quarter (26.1%) experienced hardship in settling their medical bills. While one-third (31.1%) had to sell their assets, about half (45.2%) had to secure loan while 16.6% had to resort to begging because of hardship encountered in settling the medical bills. Furthermore, of those who sold theirs asset; 46.2% sold their farmlands, 38.5% sold a piece of land, while 16.3% sold their vehicles.
Conclusion: This study has revealed that inhabitants of Samaru community experience hardship in settling their medical bills. Consequently, innovative strategies like deferment of payment and fee exemption, enrolling into community-based health insurance schemes as well as voluntary contributory health insurance schemes etc need to be considered, in order to alleviate the hardship in settling the medical bills.
Keywords: Financial, hardship, settling, medical bills.