Department of Economics, Annamalai University, Annamalai Nagar, TN, India
Background In early 2012, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) members in Ashanti Region were allowed to choose their own primary healthcare providers. This paper investigates the factors that enrolees in the Ashanti Region considered in choosing preferred primary healthcare providers (PPPs) and direction of association of such factors with the choice of PPP.
Methods Using a cross-sectional study design, the study sampled 600 NHIS enrolees in Kumasi Metro area and Kwabre East district. The sampling methods were a combination of simple random and systematic sampling techniques at different stages. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse demographic information and the criteria for selecting PPP. Multinomial logistic regression technique was used to ascertain the direction of association of the factors and the choice of PPP using mission PPPs as the base outcome.
Results Out of the 600 questionnaires administered, 496 were retained for further analysis. The results show that availability of essential drugs (53.63%) and doctors (39.92%), distance or proximity (49.60%), provider reputation (39.52%), waiting time (39.92), additional charges (37.10%), and recommendations (48.79%) were the main criteria adopted by enrolees in selecting PPPs. In the regression, income (-0.0027), availability of doctors (-1.82), additional charges (-2.14) and reputation (-2.09) were statistically significant at 1% in influencing the choice of government PPPs. On the part of private PPPs, availability of drugs (2.59), waiting time (1.45), residence (-2.62), gender (-2.89), and reputation (-2.69) were statistically significant at 1% level. Presence of additional charges (-1.29) was statistically significant at 5% level.
Conclusion Enrolees select their PPPs based on such factors as availability of doctors and essential drugs, reputation, waiting time, income, and their residence. Based on these findings, there is the need for healthcare providers to improve on their quality levels by ensuring constant availability of essential drugs, doctors, and shorter waiting time. However, individual enrolees may value each criterion differently. Thus, not all enrolees may be motivated by same concerns. This requires providers to be circumspect regarding the factors that may attract enrolees. The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) should also ensure timely release of funds to help providers procure the necessary medical supplies to ensure quality service.
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