This article presents a comparative analysis of socio-economic disparities in relation to treatment-seeking strategies and healthcare expenditures in poor neighbourhoods within larger health systems in four cities in India, Indonesia and Thailand. About 200 households in New Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Jogjakarta and Phitsanulok were repeatedly interviewed over 12 months to relate health problems with health seeking and health financing at household level. Quantitative data were complemented with ethnographic studies involving the same neighbourhoods and a number of private practitioners at each site. Within each site, the higher and lower income groups among the poor were compared. The lower income group was more likely than the higher income group to seek care from less qualified health providers and incur catastrophic health spending. The study recommends linking quality control mechanisms with universal health coverage (UHC) policies; to monitor the impact of UHC among the poorest; intervention research to reach the poorest with UHC; and inclusion of private providers without formal medical qualification in basic healthcare.
Social Science and Medicine, 2014, Vol 102, p. 49-57
India; Indonesia; Thailand; Health seeking; Health finance; Universal health coverage; Inequity; Poor urban neighbourhoods