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Health insurance coverage in Jamaica: Multivariate Analyses using two cross-sectional survey data for 2002 and 2007

Introduction: Health insurance is established as an indicator of health care-seeking behaviour. Despite this reality, no study existed in Jamaica that examines those factors that determine private health insurance coverage. This study bridges the gap in the literature as it seeks to determine correlates of private health insurance coverage. The aim of this study is to understand those who possess Health insurance coverage in Jamaica so as to aid public health policy formulation.

Method: This study used two secondary cross-sectional data from the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC). The JSLC was commissioned by the PIOJ and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) in 1988. The surveys were taken from a national crosssectional survey of 25 018 respondents (for 2002) and 6,782 people (for 2007) from the 14 parishes across Jamaica. The JSLC is a self-administered questionnaire where respondents are asked to recall detailed information on particular activities. The questionnaire was modelled from the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) household survey. There are some modifications to the LSMS, as JSLC is more focused on policy impacts. The surveys used stratified random probability sampling technique to draw the original sample of respondents. Descriptive statistics were used to provide background information on the sample, and logistic regression was to determine predictors of private health insurance coverage

.Results: Health insurance coverage can be predicted by socio-demographic factors (such as area of residence; education, marital status, social support, social class, gender, age), and economic (consumption and income). The findings revealed some similarities and dissimilarities between data for 2002 and 2007. Area of residence, consumption, educational level, marital status, income and social support were determinants over the two periods. Asset ownership was a factor in 2002 but not in 2007. For 2007, age, gender and social class were factors and not for 2002. A dissimilarity in this study was with social support. It was found that in 2002, social support was negatively correlated with Health insurance coverage and this shifts to a positive correlate in 2007. In 2002, age and gender were not associated with Health insurance coverage but these became significant predictors in 2007. Interestingly, poor health status is not correlated with private health insurance coverage. More health insurance coverage is owned by urban than by other town or rural residents.

Conclusion: Health insurance coverage is more structured for employed people who are inthe private or public sectors more within urban and other towns than rural areas indicating that rural residents, who are faced high poverty and self-employment, will be more likely in continuing their choice in home remedy or non-traditional medicine in order to address their ill-health. Health which is strongly correlated with income means that poor individuals, families, societies, nations, will be less healthy and will need assistance in the form of health insurance to be able to reduce mortality.

Author(s): Paul Andrew Bourne

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