Willingness to pay for voluntary community-based health insurance: findings from an exploratory study in the state of Penang, Malaysia

Soc Sci Med. 2013 Nov:96:272-6. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.02.045. Epub 2013 Mar 14.


Health care in Malaysia is funded primarily through taxation and is no longer sustainable. One funding option is voluntary community-based health insurance (VCHI), which provides insurance coverage for those who are unable to benefit immediately from either a social or private health insurance plan. This study is performed to assess the willingness of Malaysians to participate in a VCHI plan. A cross-sectional study was performed in the state of Penang between August and mid-September 2009 with 472 randomly selected respondents. The respondents were first asked to select their preferred health financing plan from three plans (out-of-pocket payment, compulsory social health insurance and VCHI). The extent of the household's willingness to pay for the described VCHI plan was later assessed using the contingent valuation method in an ex-ante bidding game approach until the maximum amount they would be willing to pay to obtain such a service was agreed upon. Fifty-four per cent of the participants were female, with a mean age of 34 years (SD = 11.9), the majority of whom had a monthly income of Int$1157-2312. The results indicated that more than 63.1% of the respondents were willing to join and contribute an average of Int$114.38 per month per household towards VCHI. This amount was influenced by ethnicity, educational level, household monthly income, the presence of chronic disease and the presence of private insurance coverage (p < 0.05). In conclusion, our study findings suggest that most Malaysians are willing to join the proposed VCHI and to pay an average of Int$114.38 per month per household for the plan.

Keywords: Financing; Health system; Malaysia; Voluntary community-based health insurance; Willingness to pay (WTP).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Community Health Services / economics*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Insurance, Health / economics*
  • Malaysia
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult