A qualitative assessment on the acceptability of providing cash transfers and social health insurance for tuberculosis-affected families in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal’s targets of universal health coverage (UHC) and poverty reduction, interventions are required that strengthen and harmonize both UHC and social protection. Vietnam is committed to achieving financial protection and over 90% of the general population has enrolled in its social health insurance (SHI) scheme. However, an estimated 63% of tuberculosis (TB)-affected households in Vietnam still face catastrophic costs and little is known about the optimal strategies to mitigate the costs of TB care for vulnerable families. This study assessed the acceptability of a social protection package containing cash transfers and SHI using individual interviews (n = 19) and focus group discussions (n = 3 groups). Interviews were analyzed through framework analysis.

The study’s main finding indicated that both conditional and unconditional cash transfers paired with SHI were acceptable, across six dimensions of acceptability. Cash transfers were considered beneficial for mitigating out-of-pocket expenditure, increasing TB treatment adherence, and improving mental health and general well-being, but the value provided was inadequate to fully alleviate the economic burden of the illness. The conditionality of the cash transfers was not viewed by participants as inappropriate, but it increased the workload of the TB program, which brought into question the feasibility of scale-up. SHI was viewed as a necessity by almost all participants, but people with TB questioned the quality of care received when utilizing it for auxiliary TB services. Access to multiple sources of social protection was deemed necessary to fully offset the costs of TB care. Additional research is needed to assess the impact of cash transfer interventions on health and economic outcomes
in order to create an enabling policy environment for scale-up.

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