Risks are a central part of life for households in low-income countries and health shocks in particular are associated with poverty. Formal mechanisms protecting households against the financial consequences of shocks are largely absent, especially among poor rural households. Our aim is to identify the relative importance of health shocks and to explore factors associated with coping behaviour and foregone care. We use a cross-sectional survey among 1226 randomly selected agricultural households in Kenya. In our sample, illness and injury shocks dominate all other shocks in prevalence. Almost 2% of households incurred catastrophic health expenditure in the last year. Using a probit model we identified the main coping strategies associated with facing a health shock: (1) use savings, (2) sell assets and (3) ask for gifts or loans. One in five households forewent necessary care in the last 12 months. We conclude that health shocks pose a significant risk to households. Implementing pre-payment or saving mechanisms might help protect households against the financial consequences of ill health. Such mechanisms, however, should take into account the competing shocks that agricultural households face, making it almost impossible to reserve a share of their limited resources for the protection against health shocks only.

agricultural households, coping strategies, foregone care, health shocks, Kenya
dx.doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2015.1130847, hdl.handle.net/1765/88189
Global Public Health
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Bonfrer, I.E.J, & Gustafsson-Wright, E. (2016). Health shocks, coping strategies and foregone healthcare among agricultural households in Kenya. Global Public Health, 1–22. doi:10.1080/17441692.2015.1130847