Who benefits most from extending financial protection for cataract surgery in Vietnam? An extended cost-effectiveness analysis of small incision surgery

Health Policy Plan. 2020 May 1;35(4):399-407. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czz181.


Treatment costs remain a barrier for having timely cataract surgery in Vietnam, particularly for females and the poor, despite significant progress in achieving universal health coverage (UHC). This study evaluated the potential impact, on health and financial protection, of eliminating medical and non-medical out-of-pocket costs associated with cataract surgery. An extended cost-effectiveness analysis (ECEA) was conducted with a societal perspective. The ECEA modelled how many more disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and cases of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) and medical impoverishment could be averted across income quintiles and between males and females. Two programmes were evaluated: (1) eliminating medical out-of-pocket costs for small incision cataract surgery and (2) Programme A plus a voucher programme covering non-medical out-of-pocket costs. Compared with current, the incremental cost per year of Programme A was estimated to be $833 396 and $1 641 835 for Programme B, each representing <0.01% of total health care spending in 2016. Males and females in the richest income quintiles would avert more DALYs than those in the poorest quintiles. For both programmes, most cases of CHE would be averted by individuals in the poorest income quintile. Programme B would avert the most CHE cases overall and females would have a greater share of benefits. All cases of impoverishing medical expenditure would be averted by individuals in the poorest quintile (A: 115 cases and B: 493 cases) for both programmes. The cost to avert each case of CHE with Programme A ranged from $67 to $292 and $100 to $232 for Programme B. We found a pro-rich health distribution and a pro-poor CHE distribution associated with eliminating out-of-pocket costs of cataract surgery in Vietnam. A programme that addressed both medical and non-medical out-of-pocket costs could have the greatest impact on improving financial protection in this population, particularly among the poorest income quintiles and for females. This study supports the concordance between the objectives of UHC and gender equity.

Keywords: Extended cost-effectiveness analysis; cataract surgery; equity; financial protection; out-of-pocket costs; universal health coverage.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cataract / therapy
  • Cataract Extraction*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis*
  • Female
  • Financing, Government / economics*
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Expenditures*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Universal Health Insurance
  • Vietnam