Health insurance and accessibility to health services among Roma in settlements in Belgrade, Serbia - The journey from data to policy making

Dorit Nitzan, Kristefer Stojanovski, Gerry McWeeney, Elizabet Paunovic, Piroska Ostlin, Lucianne Licari, Zsuzsanna Jakab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Serbian constitution and health-related laws assert that citizens and residents are universally entitled to health care, provided that they hold health insurance. However, until 2010, persons who did not hold a national identification number (ID) were required to present a plethora of documents to be granted one. We assessed the relationship between citizenship, residency and possession of health insurance cards, together with utilization of health services, among Roma residing in disadvantaged settlements in Belgrade. The Roma Health and Nutrition Survey was conducted in 2009 to assess the social determinants of health among Roma. Data were analysed, using logistic regression, to examine health insurance status and utilization of services by citizenship and residency. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents said they were Serbian citizens. Approximately 11% were refugees, 7% internally displaced persons (IDPs) and remainder domicile. Multivariate analysis revealed that non-citizens were more likely to lack health insurance [odds ratio (OR) = 9.2, confidence interval (CI) (3.5, 24.1)], as were refugees and IDPs [OR = 3.1, CI (1.4, 6.9), OR = 4.0, CI (1.4, 11.5), respectively]. Having health insurance was a positive predictor for being seen by a physician [OR = 2.3, CI (1.3, 4.2), OR = 2.3, CI (1.3, 3.9)]. Data from this survey indicated that non-citizen Roma had limited access to health services. These findings led the Serbian Ministry of Health and National Health Insurance Fund to reduce the administrative and legislative hurdles in obtaining health insurance, to ensure the Roma rights to health care. This demonstration of data-driven policies on Roma health could serve as a model for other countries.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)976-984
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Volume30
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 17 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Access to health
  • Roma
  • health insurance
  • health protection
  • human rights
  • universal health care

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy

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