Scaling up community-based health insurance in Ethiopia: a qualitative study of the benefits and challenges.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Ethiopia has achieved impressive improvements in health outcomes and economic growth in the last decade but its total health spending is among the lowest in Africa. Ethiopia launched a Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) scheme in 2011 with a vision of reaching 80% of districts and 80% of its population by 2020. This study aimed to identify early achievements in scaling up CBHI and the challenges of such scale-up.


We interviewed 18 stakeholders working on health financing and health insurance in Ethiopia, using a semi-structured interview guide. All interviews were conducted in English and transcribed for analysis. We performed direct content analysis of the interview transcripts to identify key informants' views on the achievements of, and challenges in, the scale-up of CBHI.


Implementation of CBHI in Ethiopia took advantage of two key "policy windows"-global efforts towards universal health coverage and domestic resource mobilization to prepare countries for their transition away from donor assistance for health. CBHI received strong political support and early pilots helped to inform the process of scaling up the scheme. CBHI has helped to mobilize community engagement and resources, improve access to and use of health services, provide financial protection, and empower women.


Gradually increasing risk pooling would improve the financial sustainability of CBHI. Improving health service quality and the availability of medicines should be the priority to increase and sustain population coverage. Engaging different stakeholders, including healthcare providers, lower level policy makers, and the private sector, would mobilize more resources for the development of CBHI. Training for operational staff and a strong health information system would improve the implementation of CBHI and provide evidence to inform better decision-making.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Mulat, AK; Mao, W; Bharali, I; Balkew, RB; Yamey, G

Published Date

  • April 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 22 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 473 -

PubMed ID

  • 35399058

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8994817

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1472-6963

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1472-6963

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/s12913-022-07889-4


  • eng