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Explaining income-related inequalities in doctor utilisation in Europe

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  • Eddy van Doorslaer

    (Department of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Xander Koolman

    (Department of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Andrew M. Jones

    (Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, UK)

Abstract

This paper presents new international comparative evidence on the factors driving inequalities in the use of GP and specialist services in 12 EU member states. The data are taken from the 1996 wave of the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). We examine two types of utilisation (the probability of a visit and the conditional number of positive visits) for two types of medical care: general practitioner and medical specialist visits using probit, truncated Negbin and generalised Negbin models. We find little or no evidence of income-related inequity in the probability of a GP visit in these countries. Conditional upon at least one visit, there is even evidence of a somewhat pro-poor distribution. By contrast, substantial pro-rich inequity emerges in virtually every country with respect to the probability of contacting a medical specialist. Despite their lower needs for such care, wealthier and higher educated individuals appear to be much more likely to see a specialist than the less well-off. This phenomenon is universal in Europe, but stronger in countries where either private insurance cover or private practice options are offered to purchase quicker and|or preferential access. Pro-rich inequity in subsequent visits adds to this access inequity but appears more related to regional disparities in utilisation than to other factors. Despite decades of universal and fairly comprehensive coverage in European countries, utilisation patterns suggest that rich and poor are not treated equally. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2004)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 629-647

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:13:y:2004:i:7:p:629-647

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Wagstaff, Adam & Van Doorslaer, Eddy & Watanabe, Naoko, 2001. "On decomposing the causes of health sector inequalities with an application to malnutrition inequalities in Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2714, The World Bank.
  2. Gerdtham, Ulf-G., 1996. "Equity in Health Care Utilisation: Further Tests Based on Hurdle models and Swedish Micro Data," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 116, Stockholm School of Economics.
  3. Winfried Pohlmeier & Volker Ulrich, 1995. "An Econometric Model of the Two-Part Decisionmaking Process in the Demand for Health Care," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 339-361.
  4. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Paci, Pierella, 1991. "On the measurement of horizontal inequity in the delivery of health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 169-205, July.
  5. Jones, Andrew M., 2000. "Health econometrics," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 265-344 Elsevier.
  6. Sergi Jiménez-Mart�n & José M. Labeaga & Maite Mart�nez-Granado, 2002. "Latent class versus two-part models in the demand for physician services across the European Union," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 301-321.
  7. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1992. "Equity in the finance of health care: Some international comparisons," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 361-387, December.
  8. Erik SCHOKKAERT & Carine VAN DE VOORDE, 2000. "Risk Selection and the Specification of the Conventional Risk Adjustment Formula," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces0011, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  9. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 2000. "Chapter 34 Equity in health care finance and delivery," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 34, pages 1803-1862 Elsevier.
  10. van Doorslaer, Eddy & Wagstaff, Adam, 1992. "Equity in the delivery of health care: some international comparisons," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 389-411, December.
  11. van Doorslaer, Eddy & Wagstaff, Adam & van der Burg, Hattem & Christiansen, Terkel & De Graeve, Diana & Duchesne, Inge & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Gerfin, Michael & Geurts, Jose & Gross, Lorna, 2000. "Equity in the delivery of health care in Europe and the US," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 553-583, September.
  12. Eddy van Doorslaer & Xander Koolman, 2004. "Explaining the differences in income-related health inequalities across European countries," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 609-628.
  13. Hugh Gravelle, 2003. "Measuring income related inequality in health: standardisation and the partial concentration index," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(10), pages 803-819.
  14. Lerman, Robert I. & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1989. "Improving the accuracy of estimates of Gini coefficients," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 43-47, September.
  15. Adam Wagstaff & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2000. "Measuring and Testing for Inequity in the Delivery of Health Care," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(4), pages 716-733.
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