Over- and under-treatment of TB patients in Eastern China: an analysis based on health insurance claims data.
OBJECTIVE: Poor compliance with existing guidelines for tuberculosis (TB) care and treatment is an issue of concern in China. We assessed health service use by TB patients over the entire treatment process and compared it to the recommended guidelines. METHODS: We collected insurance claims data in three counties of one province of Eastern China. Patient records with a diagnosis of 'pulmonary TB' in 2015 and 2016 were extracted. Treatment duration, number of outpatient (OP) visits and hospital admissions, as well as total cost, out-of-pocket (OOP) payments and effective reimbursement rates were analysed. RESULTS: A total of 1394 patients were included in the analysis. More than 48% received over the 8 months of treatment that TB guidelines recommend, and over 28% received less. 49% of Urban and Rural Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URRBMI) TB patients were hospitalised while 30% of those with Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI) had at least one admission. Median total cost for patients with hospital admission was almost 10 times that of patients without. By comparison, the average OOP was 5 times higher. UEBMI patients had a shorter treatment period, more outpatient visits but considerably fewer hospital admissions than URRBMI patients. CONCLUSIONS: We found an alarming extent of TB over- and under-treatment in our study population. There is an urgent need to improve compliance with treatment guidelines in China and to better understand the drivers of divergence. Extending the coverage of health insurance schemes and increasing reimbursement rates for TB outpatient services would seem to be key factors in reducing both the overall cost and financial burden on patients.
Mao, W; Jiang, W; Hamilton, C; Zhang, H; Huang, F; Lucas, H; Huan, S; Tang, S
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