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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

International Journal for Equity in Health 1/2018

Determinants of National Health Insurance enrolment in Ghana across the life course: Are the results consistent between surveys?

International Journal for Equity in Health > Ausgabe 1/2018
Nele van der Wielen, Jane Falkingham, Andrew Amos Channon



Ghana is currently undergoing a profound demographic transition, with large increases in the number of older adults in the population. Older adults require greater levels of healthcare as illness and disability increase with age. Ghana therefore provides an important and timely case study of policy implementation aimed at improving equal access to healthcare in the context of population ageing.
This paper examines the determinants of National Health Insurance (NHIS) enrolment in Ghana, using two different surveys and distinguishing between younger and older adults. Two surveys are used in order to investigate consistency in insurance enrolment. The comparison between age groups is aimed at understanding whether determinants differ for older adults. Previous studies have mainly focused on the enrolment of young and middle aged adults; thus by widening the focus to include older adults and taking into account differences in their demographic and socio-economic characteristics this paper provides a unique contribution to the literature.


Using data from the 2007-2008 Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) and the 2012-2013 Ghanaian Living Standards Survey (GLSS) the determinants of NHIS enrolment among younger adults (aged 18-49) and older adults (aged 50 and over) are compared. Logistic regression explores the socio-economic and demographic determinants of NHIS enrolment and multinomial logistic regression investigates the correlates of insurance drop out.


Similar results for people aged 18-49 and people aged 50 plus were revealed, with older adults having a slightly lower probability of dropping out of insurance coverage compared to younger adults. Both surveys confirm that education and wealth increase the likelihood of NHIS affiliation. Further, residential differences in insurance coverage are found, with greater NHIS coverage in urban areas. The findings give assurance that both datasets (SAGE and GLSS) are suitable for research on insurance affiliation in Ghana.


The paper indicates that although the gap in coverage among rich and poor and urban and rural residents appears to have decreased, these factors still determine NHIS coverage of younger and older adults. The same holds for education. Increasing efforts are needed to ensure equal access to healthcare.
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