Improving maternal care through a state-wide health insurance program: a cost and cost-effectiveness study in rural Nigeria

BACKGROUND: While the Nigerian government has made progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, further investments are needed to achieve the targets of post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, including Universal Health Coverage. Economic evaluations of innovative interventions can help inform investment decisions in resource-constrained settings. We aim to assess the cost and cost-effectiveness of maternal care provided within the new Kwara State Health Insurance program (KSHI) in rural Nigeria. Methods and FINDINGS: We used a decision analytic model to simulate a cohort of pregnant women. The primary outcome is the incremental cost effectiveness ratio (ICER) of the KSHI scenario compared to the current standard of care. Intervention cost from a healthcare provider perspective included service delivery costs and above-service level costs; these were evaluated in a participating hospital and using financial records from the managing organisations, respectively. Standard of care costs from a provider perspective were derived from the literature using an ingredient approach. We generated 95% credibility intervals around the primary outcome through probabilistic sensitivity analysis (PSA) based on a Monte Carlo simulation. We conducted one-way sensitivity analyses across key model parameters and assessed the sensitivity of our results to the performance of the base case separately through a scenario analysis. Finally, we assessed the sustainability and feasibility of this program’s scale up within the State’s healthcare financing structure through a budget impact analysis. The KSHI scenario results in a health benefit to patients at a higher cost compared to the base case. The mean ICER (US$46.4/disability-adjusted life year averted) is considered very cost-effective compared to a willingness-to-pay threshold of one gross domestic product per capita (Nigeria, US$ 2012, 2,730). Our conclusion was robust to uncertainty in parameters estimates (PSA: median US$49.1, 95% credible interval 21.9-152.3), during one-way sensitivity analyses, and when cost, quality, cost and utilization parameters of the base case scenario were changed. The sustainability of this program’s scale up by the State is dependent on further investments in healthcare. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that the investment made by the KSHI program in rural Nigeria is likely to have been cost-effective; however, further healthcare investments are needed for this program to be successfully expanded within Kwara State. Policy makers should consider supporting financial initiatives to reduce maternal mortality tackling both supply and demand issues in the access to care.