Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Background: As low- and middle-income countries progress toward Universal Health Coverage, there is an increasing focus on measuring out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure and health services utilization within countries. While there have been several reforms to improve health services coverage and financial protection in Pakistan, there is limited empirical research comparing OOP expenditure and health services utilization between public and private facilities and exploring their determinants, a knowledge gap addressed in this study.
Methods: We used data from 2013 to 14 OOP Health Expenditure Survey, a population-based household survey carried out for Pakistan's National Health Accounts. The analysis included 7969 encounters from 4293 households. We conducted bivariate analyses to describe patterns of care utilization, estimated annualized expenditures by type and sector of care, and assessed expenditure composition. We used multivariable logistic regression modeling to identify factors associated with sector of care and generalized linear model (GLM) with log link and gamma distribution to identify determinants of OOP expenditures stratified by type of care (inpatient and outpatient).
Results: Most encounters (82.5%) were in the private sector and were for outpatient visits (85%). Several public-private differences were observed in annualized expenditures and expenditure components. Logistic regression results indicate males, wealthier individuals, Punjab and Sindh residents, and those in smaller households were more likely to access private outpatient care. In the inpatient model, rural residents were more likely to use a private provider, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa residents were less likely to use private care. GLM results indicate private sector inpatient expenditures were approximately PKR 6660 (USD 61.8) higher than public sector expenditures, but no public-private differences were observed for outpatient expenditures. Several demographic factors were significantly associated with outpatient and inpatient expenditures. Of note, expenditures increased with increasing wealth, decreased with increasing household size, and differed by province and region.
Conclusions: This is the first study comprehensively investigating how healthcare utilization and OOP expenditures vary by sector, type of care, and socio-economic characteristics in Pakistan. The findings are expected to be particularly useful for the next phase of social health protection programs and supply side reforms, as they highlight sub-populations with higher OOP and private sector utilization.


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BMC Health Services Research

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.