Understanding consumers' preferences and decision to enrol in community-based health insurance in rural West Africa

Manuela De Allegri, Mamadou Sanon, John Bridges, Rainer Sauerborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


This paper presents a qualitative investigation of consumers' preferences regarding the single elements of a community-based health insurance (CBI) scheme recently implemented in a rural region in west Africa. The aim is to provide adequate policy-guidance to decision makers in low and middle income countries by producing an in-depth understanding of how consumers' preferences may affect decision to participate in such schemes. Although it has long been suggested that feeble levels of participation may very well be an expression of consumers' dissatisfaction with scheme design, little systematic efforts have so far been channelled towards supporting such argument with empirical evidence. Consumers' preferences were explored through means of 32 individual interviews with household heads. Analysis used the method of constant comparison and was conducted by two independent researchers. Data from 10 focus group discussions provided an additional valuable source of triangulation. Findings suggest that decision to enrol is closely linked to whether the single elements of the scheme match consumers' needs and expectations. In particular, consumers justified decision to join or not to join the insurance scheme in relation to their preference for the unit of enrolment, the premium level and the payment modalities, the benefit package, the health service provider network and the CBI managerial structure. The discussion of the findings focuses on how understanding consumers' preferences and incorporating them in the design of a CBI scheme may result in increased participation rates, ensuring that poor populations gain better access to health services and enjoy greater protection against the cost of illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-71
Number of pages14
JournalHealth policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Burkina Faso
  • Community-based health insurance
  • Consumers' preferences
  • West Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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