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Health insurance and care-seeking behaviours of female migrants in Accra, Ghana

Lattof, Samantha R. ORCID: 0000-0003-0934-1488 (2018) Health insurance and care-seeking behaviours of female migrants in Accra, Ghana. Health Policy and Planning, 33 (4). pp. 505-515. ISSN 0268-1080

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Identification Number: 10.1093/heapol/czy012


People working in Ghana’s informal sector have low rates of enrolment in the publicly funded National Health Insurance Scheme. Informal sector workers, including migrant girls and women from northern Ghana working as head porters (kayayei), report challenges obtaining insurance and seeking formal health care. This article analyses how health insurance status affects kayayei migrants’ care-seeking behaviours. This mixed-methods study involved surveying 625 migrants using respondent-driven sampling and conducting in-depth interviews with a sub-sample of 48 migrants. Analyses explore health status and health seeking behaviours for recent illness/injury. Binary logistic regression modelled the effects of selected independent variables on whether or not a recently ill/injured participant (n = 239) sought health care. Although recently ill/injured participants (38.4%) desired health care, less than half (43.5%) sought care. Financial barriers overwhelmingly limit kayayei migrants from seeking health care, preventing them from registering with the National Health Insurance Scheme, renewing their expired health insurance policies, or taking time away from work. Both insured and uninsured migrants did not seek formal health services due to the unpredictable nature of out-of-pocket expenses. Catastrophic and impoverishing medical expenses also drove participants’ migration in search of work to repay loans and hospital bills. Health insurance can help minimize these expenditures, but only 17.4% of currently insured participants (58.2%) reported holding a valid health insurance card in Accra. The others lost their cards or forgot them when migrating. Access to formal health care in Accra remains largely inaccessible to kayayei migrants who suffer from greater illness/injury than the general female population in Accra and who are hindered in their ability to receive insurance exemptions. With internal migration on the rise in many settings, health systems must recognize the varied needs of populations in multi-ethnic and multilingual countries to ensure that internal migrants can access affordable, quality health services across domestic borders.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2018 12:31
Last Modified: 24 May 2024 18:12
Funders: London School of Economics

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