Measuring and Decomposing Socioeconomic Inequality in Catastrophic Healthcare Expenditures in Iran

  • Rezaei, Satar (Research Center for Environmental Determinants of Health, Health Institute, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Hajizadeh, Mohammad (School of Health Administration, Faculty of Health, Dalhousie University)
  • Received : 2019.02.25
  • Accepted : 2019.05.09
  • Published : 2019.07.31


Objectives: Equity in financial protection against healthcare expenditures is one the primary functions of health systems worldwide. This study aimed to quantify socioeconomic inequality in facing catastrophic healthcare expenditures (CHE) and to identify the main factors contributing to socioeconomic inequality in CHE in Iran. Methods: A total of 37 860 households were drawn from the Households Income and Expenditure Survey, conducted by the Statistical Center of Iran in 2017. The prevalence of CHE was measured using a cut-off of spending at least 40% of the capacity to pay on healthcare services. The concentration curve and concentration index (C) were used to illustrate and measure the extent of socioeconomic inequality in CHE among Iranian households. The C was decomposed to identify the main factors explaining the observed socioeconomic inequality in CHE in Iran. Results: The prevalence of CHE among Iranian households in 2017 was 5.26% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.04 to 5.49). The value of C was -0.17 (95% CI, -0.19 to -0.13), suggesting that CHE was mainly concentrated among socioeconomically disadvantaged households in Iran. The decomposition analysis highlighted the household wealth index as explaining 71.7% of the concentration of CHE among the poor in Iran. Conclusions: This study revealed that CHE is disproportionately concentrated among poor households in Iran. Health policies to reduce socioeconomic inequality in facing CHE in Iran should focus on socioeconomically disadvantaged households.


Supported by : Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences


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