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The Effects of Loan Amounts on Health Care Utilization in Ghana

Ekow Asmah, Emmanuel and Orkoh, Emmanuel (2015): The Effects of Loan Amounts on Health Care Utilization in Ghana.

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Utilization of health care services - both preventive and curative, is among the myriad of important determinants of health and remains an issue of significant policy concern and focus in developing countries. Despite the importance of health care utilization, there is evidence to confirm that many people in Ghana go without health care from which they could benefit greatly. This disturbing, yet preventable, state of affairs causes’ untold suffering and, given its wide scale, presents a major obstacle to the development process. A range of socioeconomic, demographic, and public health related factors work together to influence household health utilization but the extent to which access to formal and informal credit plays in the Ghanaian context has not been addressed in the empirical literature. Using recently released Ghana Household Living Standard Survey round six (GLSS, 6) in 2012/2013, this study examines the extent to which an individual’s relative control over household resources, gauged by loan amounts influence health care utilization. The results, based on logistic and multinomial regression model estimation, demonstrate that a one percent increase in the amount of credit accessed from a financial institution is associated with 0.611 probability that an individual will consult a health practitioner when ill. Other variables that significantly predict the tendency that a respondent will consult a health practitioner when suffering any infirmity include income of the household, insurance status of the individual, place of residence and household size. We also find that Individuals in different socio-economic strata (region, rural/urban) face different risks with health care utilization. Policies aimed at making credit available to individuals and households can make an important contribution to health care utilization in Ghana. Moving forward, health programs and interventions should be embedded in financial services and they need to be tailored to particular socio-economic groups.

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