Document Type: Research Articles
Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.
Department of Radiotherapy, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.
Introduction: Cervical cancer is a major public health problem in India leading to high economic burden, which is disproportionately borne by the patients as out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE). Several publicly financed health insurance schemes (PFHIs) in India cover the treatment for cervical cancer. However, the provider payment rates for health benefit packages (HBP) under these PFHIs are not based on scientific evidence. We undertook this study to estimate the cost of services provided for treatment of cervical cancer and cost of the package of care for cervical cancer in India. Methods: The study was undertaken at a large public tertiary hospital in North India. The health system cost was assessed using a mixed micro-costing approach. The data were collected for all the resources utilized during service delivery for cervical cancer patients. To evaluate the OOPE, randomly selected 248 patients were interviewed following the cost of illness approach. Logistic regression was used to assess the factors associated with catastrophic health expenditure (CHE). Results: Health system cost for different cervical cancer treatment modalities i.e. radiotherapy, brachytherapy, chemotherapy and surgery, ranges from INR 19,494 to 41,388 (USD 291 – 617). Furthermore, patients spent INR 4,042 to 23,453 ( USD 60 – 350) as OOPE. Nearly 62% patients incurred CHE, and 30% reported distress financing. The odds of CHE (OR: 25.39, p-value: <0.001) and distress financing (OR: 15.37, p-value: 0.001) were significantly higher in poorest-income quintile. The HBP cost varies from INR 45,364 to 64,422 (USD 676 – 960) for brachytherapy and radiotherapy respectively. Conclusion: Cervical cancer treatment leads to high OOPE in India, which imposes financial hardship, especially for the poorest. The coverage of risk pooling mechanisms like PHFIs should be enhanced. The findings of our study should be used to set the reimbursement rates of providing cervical cancer treatment under PFHI schemes.