The effect of health insurance and health facility-upgrades on hospital deliveries in rural Nigeria: A controlled interrupted time-series study

Daniëlla Brals*, Sunday A. Aderibigbe, Ferdinand W. Wit, Johannes C.M. Van Ophem, Marijn Van Der List, Gordon K. Osagbemi, Marleen E. Hendriks, Tanimola M. Akande, Michael Boele Van Hensbroek, Constance Schultsz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background:â € Access to quality obstetric care is considered essential to reducing maternal and new-born mortality. We evaluated the effect of the introduction of a multifaceted voluntary health insurance programme on hospital deliveries in rural Nigeria. Methods:â € We used an interrupted time-series design, including a control group. The intervention consisted of providing voluntary health insurance covering primary and secondary healthcare, including antenatal and obstetric care, combined with improving the quality of healthcare facilities. We compared changes in hospital deliveries from 1 May 2005 to 30 April 2013 between the programme area and control area in a difference-in-differences analysis with multiple time periods, adjusting for observed confounders. Data were collected through household surveys. Eligible households (n = 1500) were selected from a stratified probability sample of enumeration areas. All deliveries during the 4-year baseline period (n = 460) and 4-year follow-up period (n = 380) were included. Findings:â € Insurance coverage increased from 0% before the insurance was introduced to 70.2% in April 2013 in the programme area. In the control area insurance coverage remained 0% between May 2005 and April 2013. Although hospital deliveries followed a common stable trend over the 4 pre-programme years (P = 0.89), the increase in hospital deliveries during the 4-year follow-up period in the programme area was 29.3 percentage points (95% CI: 16.1 to 42.6; P < 0.001) greater than the change in the control area (intention-To-Treat impact), corresponding to a relative increase in hospital deliveries of 62%. Women who did not enroll in health insurance but who could make use of the upgraded care delivered significantly more often in a hospital during the follow-up period than women living in the control area (P = 0.04). Conclusions:â € Voluntary health insurance combined with quality healthcare services is highly effective in increasing hospital deliveries in rural Nigeria, by improving access to healthcare for insured and uninsured women in the programme area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)990-1001
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Access to care
  • global health
  • health insurance
  • health system strengthening
  • hospital delivery
  • impact evaluation
  • maternal and new-born health and survival
  • Nigeria
  • public health
  • quality of care
  • sub-Saharan Africa


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