Evidence from the national health account: the case of Dubai
School of Health and Environmental Studies, Hamadan Bin Mohammad Smart University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Introduction: National health accounts (NHAs) provide useful information to aid in understanding the health care financing system. This article aims to present a profile of health system financing in Dubai using data from the NHA. We also aim to compare the provider structure of financing schemes in Dubai with those of the State of Qatar and selected Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
Methods: The author analyzed secondary data published in NHAs for Dubai and Qatar, and data collected by the OECD countries and publicly available from the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), for 25 OECD countries for comparative analysis. All health financing measures used are as defined in the international System of Health Accounts (SHA).
Results: In Dubai, only 33% of current health expenditure (CHE) is funded by the government. However, the public sector is the main source of health funding in Qatar and most OECD countries, with an average of 79% and 72%, respectively. Households in Dubai spent about 22% of CHE, equivalent to an average US$187 per capita, ranking the highest among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and compared with 20% of CHE across OECD countries. Hospitals in Dubai accounted for 48% of CHE, which is much higher than Qatar (40%) and the OECD average (36%).
Conclusion: The Dubai health care financing system differs substantially from that in OECD countries, as it is more private oriented. The findings point to several potential opportunities for growth and improvement. Policy areas that may be addressed using the information presented in this article are broad and include the following: shift from hospital care to ambulatory and day care, sustainability of health finance, shift the cost of health care to the private sector, introduce cost-containment measures, revise payment systems for health providers, and produce subnational accounts for non-communicable diseases. More investment in the translation of national health account data into policy is suggested for future researchers.
Keywords: Dubai, health finance, health account, health expenditures
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