Working Papers   103

Catastrophic Payments and Poverty in Cambodia: Evidence from Cambodia Socio-Economic Surveys 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011

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This paper estimates the incidence and intensity of catastrophic health payments and their impoverishment effects and identifies the sources of catastrophic payments by using the nationally representative household survey, the Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey conducted in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 by the National Institute of Statistics. We find that the proportion of households with out-of-pocket health spending exceeding the 10 percent threshold (the incidence of catastrophic payments) declined from 12.3 percent in 2004 to 9.2 percent in 2011, and the amount of out-of-pocket health spending as a share of total household expenditure exceeding the 10 percent threshold (the intensity of catastrophic payments) also dropped, from 2.0 percent in 2004 to 1.3 percent in 2011. Better-off households are more likely to exceed the payment threshold than poor households. The level of consumption per capita, household size, distance between household and commune health centre, and households in rural areas are positively associated with catastrophic payments, while education and access to safe drinking water and sanitary toilets have played a very important role in reducing the likelihood of incurring catastrophic payments. Out-of-pocket health spending seems to increase poverty incidence and the poverty gap. Its effects on poverty incidence are diminished over time, but poor households become even poorer. The evidence indicates that health-related programmes to reduce catastrophic health spending should be well targeted and public health interventions in the water and sanitation sector that promote access to safe drinking water and hygienic toilets can be an indirect approach to address the problem.

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