Background Several countries including Tanzania, have established voluntary non-profit insurance schemes, commonly known as community-based health insurance schemes (CBHIs), that typically target rural populations and the informal sector. This paper considers the importance of household perceptions towards CBHIs in Tanzania and their role in explaining the enrolment decision of households. Methods This was a cross-sectional household survey that involved 722 households located in Bahi and Chamwino districts in the Dodoma region. A three-stage sampling procedure was used, and the data were analyzed using both factor analysis (FA) and principal component analysis (PCA). Statistical tests such as Bartlett’s test of sphericity, Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) for sampling adequacy, and Cronbach’s alpha test for internal consistency and scale reliability were performed to examine the suitability of the data for PCA and FA. Finally, multivariate logistic regressions were run to determine the associations between the identified factors and the insurance enrolment status. Results The PCA identified seven perception factors while FA identified four factors. The quality of healthcare services, preferences (social beliefs), and accessibility to insurance scheme administration (convenience) were the most important factors identified by the two methods. Multivariate logistic regressions showed that the factors identified from the two methods differed somewhat in importance when considered as independent predictors of the enrollment status. The most important perception factors in terms of strength of association (odds ratio) and statistical significance were accessibility to insurance scheme administration (convenience), preferences (beliefs), and the quality of health care services. However, age and income were the only socio-demographic characteristics that were statistically significant. Conclusion Household perceptions were found to influence households’ decisions to enroll in CBHIs. Policymakers should recognize and consider these perceptions when designing policies and programs that aim to increase the enrolment into CBHIs.
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