Resilience and Health Shocks: The Potential of Health Savings Accounts and Health Loans
This working paper discusses a field experiment in rural Burkina Faso aimed at understanding how households respond to shocks and build resilience to face future shocks. In arid agricultural regions such as the Passoré Province of Burkina Faso, households have access to few resources for facing numerous health and environmental shocks. Economic games were used to introduce health savings accounts (HSAs) and health loans to participants, mimicking real-life products by a local financial service provider (FSP). Participants encountered real-life scenarios and were asked to manage shocks with the resources provided through their game, and their decisions on the use of those resources were recorded. There were real economic incentives to participate; the women received monetary rewards for attendance as well as for their final wealth level at the end of the game. The research identified key strategies that households used to respond to shocks—with and without access to the HSA and loan. The research aimed to help FSPs better understand the potential impacts of financial tools created specifically to cope with shocks and build resilience.