In the pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal targets of universal health coverage and reducing maternal mortality, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have implemented health insurance policies over the last two decades. Given that there is a paucity of empirical literature at the sub-regional level, we examined the prevalence and factors associated with health insurance coverage among women in in sub-Saharan Africa.
Materials and methods
We analysed cross-sectional data of 307,611 reproductive-aged women from the most recent demographic and health surveys of 24 sub-Saharan African countries. Bivariable and multivariable analyses were performed using chi-square test of independence and multi-level logistic regression respectively. Results are presented as adjusted Odds Ratios (aOR) for the multilevel logistic regression analysis. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05.
The overall coverage of health insurance was 8.5%, with cross-country variations. The lowest coverage was recorded in Chad (0.9%) and the highest in Ghana (62.4%). Individual-level factors significantly associated with health insurance coverage included age, place of residence, level of formal education, frequency of reading newspaper/magazine and watching television. Wealth status and place of residence were the contextual factors significantly associated with health insurance coverage. Women with no formal education were 78% less likely to be covered by health insurance (aOR = 0.22, 95% CI = 0.21–0.24), compared with those who had higher education. Urban women, however, had higher odds of being covered by health insurance, compared with those in the rural areas [aOR = 1.20, 95%CI = 1.15–1.25].
We found an overall relatively low prevalence of health insurance coverage among women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa. As sub-Saharan African countries work toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goal targets of universal health coverage and lowering maternal mortality to less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births, it is important that countries with low coverage of health insurance among women of reproductive age integrate measures such as free maternal healthcare into their respective development plans. Interventions aimed at expanding health insurance coverage should be directed at younger women of reproductive age, rural women, and women who do not read newspapers/magazines or watch television.