Objective: To estimate out-of-pocket expenditures for health care during the first hospitalization of children treated for leukemia in two hospitals of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social-IMSS-).
Material and methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Mexico City and Leon, Guanajato, Mexico in 1997. The study population consisted of the parents of 51 children under 15 years of age diagnosed with leukemia, who were hospitalized for the first time in two IMSS hospitals. A questionnaire was applied to participants to obtain direct and indirect expenditures during that period. Consumer price indexes (1997-2002) were used to estimate expenditure prices for 2002. Average expenditures and catastrophic expenditures were estimated. Factors associated with expenditures were analyzed using a linear regression model in which the dependent variable was the total household expenditures during hospitalization.
Results: The average household cost per hospitalization was 7,318 pesos, 86% of which corresponded to medical care and 14% to indirect costs. Catastrophic expenditures occurred in 14% of households. In 47% of household expenditures exceeded 100% of the total household income during the hospitalization period. Expenditures during hospitalization were associated with place of residence, income level, and type of medical insurance.
Conclusions: Being an IMSS policyholder decreased out-of-pocket expenditures, but not complementary expenditures, which may still be unaffordable for a large segment of the population. For more than a half of the households studied, continuity of care was compromised, as expenditures during the first hospitalization entailed using up savings, going into debt, and/or selling household property.