Objectives: This study aimed to determine the prevalence and associated factors of out-of-pocket pharmaceutical expenditure (OOPPE) among primary healthcare patients.
Methods: The study is part of the Prover Project, an exit survey conducted in 2017 in a large city (population 234 937) in Minas Gerais State, Brazil. A representative sample of patients (n = 1219) from pharmaceutical services based on primary healthcare was selected. Three components of OOPPE were assessed: the general prevalence, the types of medicines purchased (medicines for the treatment of chronic diseases, medicines for the treatment of acute diseases, or herbal medicines), and coverage by the National Health System. The factors associated with OOPPE were examined applying a modified Andersen's behavioral model of health services use. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression.
Results: The overall prevalence of OOPPE was 77%. Most patients who had OOPPE purchased medicines to treat chronic diseases (94%). In addition, these patients purchased medicines covered by public insurance but were out of stock (85%). OOPPE was associated with enabling factors, such as higher personal income (odds ratio [OR] 1.92; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-3.62), holding health insurance (OR 1.40; 95% CI 1.01-1.95), and higher neighborhood trust (OR 1.34; 95% CI 1.01-1.79), and with need factors, that is, poorer perception of health (OR 1.63; 95% CI 1.20-2.21), multiple comorbidities (OR 1.70; 95% CI 1.18-2.46), and higher number of prescribed medicines (OR 2.84; 95% CI 1.90-4.26).
Conclusions: We found a high prevalence of OOPPE, identifying individuals more likely to incur these expenses. These findings are useful to inform policy makers from the healthcare system to plan and implement the needed interventions to protect primary care patients from this financial burden.
Keywords: Brazilian public health system; out-of-pocket pharmaceutical expenditure; primary healthcare.
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