Welcome to the Publication Archives of USAID-funded Health Policy Projects.

Browse POLICY Project (1995-2006) Materials

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  • User fees are gaining widespread use in government health programs as a means of alleviating pressure on constrained budgets as demand for services increases. Concerns that fees reduce access to services among the poor have led to the promotion of fee exemption mechanisms in order to protect those unable to pay for services. The exemptions, however, may not effectively ensure access among the poor because (1) informal fees and other costs associated with seeking and receiving services are not alleviated by most exemption mechanisms and (2) exemption mechanisms are poorly implemented. The low proportion of formal fees to total costs to the consumer and the unpredictable nature of informal fees and other costs of access may actually work against formal fee exemption mechanisms. Even though little is known about how well fee and waiver mechanisms function for maternal health services, it is important to understand whether exemption mechanisms alone hold promise for protecting access for the poor or whether the mechanisms need to be supplemented with other strategies. This study was conducted simultaneously in five countries: Egypt, India (Uttaranchal), Kenya, Peru, and Vietnam. The objectives were to survey actual costs to consumers for antenatal and delivery care; survey current fee and waiver mechanisms; assess the degree to which these mechanisms function; assess the degree to which informal costs to consumers constitute a barrier to service; and review current policies and practices regarding the setting of fees and the collection, retention, and use of revenue.