Out-of-pocket payment for healthcare among urban citizens in Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • Authors: Sarker AR Ali SMZ Ahmed M Chowdhury SMZI Ali N.


"Objectives Out-of-pocket (OOP) payment is the major payment strategy for healthcare in Bangladesh, and the share of OOP expenditure has increased alarmingly. Dhaka is recognised as one of the fastest-growing megacities in the world. The objective of this study is to capture the self-reported illnesses among urban citizens and to identify whether and to what extent socioeconomic, demographic and behavioural factors of the population influence OOP healthcare expenditures. Subject and methods This study utilises cross-sectional survey data collected from May to August 2019 in urban Dhaka, Bangladesh. A total of 3,100 households were randomly selected. Simple descriptive statistics including frequencies, percentage, mean (95% CI), median and inter-quartile range were presented. Bivariate analysis and multivariate regression models were employed. Results We observed that acute illnesses (e.g., fever, flu/cough) were dominant among participants. Among the chronic illnesses, approximately 9.6% of people had diabetes, while 5.3% had high/low blood pressure. The richest quintile only spent 5.2% of their household income on healthcare, while the poorest households spent approximately six times more than the richest households. We noted that various factors such as marital status, religion, source of care, access to safe water, income quintile and even the location of households had a significant relationship with OOP expenditure. Conclusions Our findings can serve as important source of data in terms of disease- specific symptoms and out-of-pocket cost among urban citizens in Dhaka. The people belonging to wealthier households tended to choose better healthcare facilities and spend more. A pro-poor policy initiative and even an urban health protection scheme may be necessary to ensure that healthcare services are accessible and affordable, in line with the Bangladesh National Urban Health Strategy."