Benefits of the health co-op
Patients and doctors receive benefits from using the health cooperative model in Uganda.
How does a health co-op work?
The health cooperative model (also called a co-op) is a health insurance option. The insurance is owned by doctors (who provide care) and by members (who join to receive benefits). Members of the co-op pay membership fees and monthly premiums, and a co-pay is due when they receive care. The doctors use the premiums to keep a good supply of medicine, and to pay the staff on time. Both measures help improve the quality of care that patients receive.
Benefits for patients
Members of the co-op are more likely to adopt preventive care habits – habits that can help prevent sickness. They are more likely to have hand-washing stations in their homes. And pregnant women are significantly more likely to sleep under bed nets.
Members of the co-op get sick less often. When they do get sick, they are more likely to get treatment, and they seek treatment earlier than people who aren’t in co-ops. Women in co-ops are also more likely to get prenatal, postnatal and delivery care.
Less financial risk
Members of the co-op are protected from large health care costs. As a result, they are less likely to sell assets or borrow money to pay for care. Because they aren’t afraid of the cost of care, they are also more likely to seek care when they are sick.
Benefits for doctors
Doctors recover significantly more money from co-op members than from clients who pay out of pocket. The cost recovery for doctors is determined by subtracting the cost of treatment from the amount patients pay for treatment. On average, the co-op:
- Recovers $6.38 USD per co-op member patient
- Loses $0.50 USD per patient who pays out of pocket
Every doctor acknowledges that working with co-ops is financially profitable for their health centers. One-fourth of the doctors said that working with co-ops has improved the quality of care at their center.