Out-of-pocket health care expenditures due to excess of body weight in Portugal
The prevalence for excessive weight has also been increasing dramatically in Portugal over the last decades. The consequences for families as well as for the publicly funded Portuguese health care system are a matter of policy interest. This paper uses an econometric model to compute the fraction of the national out-of-pocket health care expenditures attributable to overweight and obesity among Portuguese adults. Given that public health care system pays for a substantial share of the national health care expenditures, the estimated the out-of-pocket expenditures is only a share of the total expenditures. Per-capita expenditures and the burden that obesity and overweight impose on families are also estimated. Two waves of the Portuguese National Health Survey (NHS), namely; 1995/1996 and 1998/1999 are considered. The results suggest that out-of-pocket expenditures due to excess weight have increased sharply during these 3 years. The two-part model estimates suggest that the obese and overweight are more likely to incur out-of-pocket health care expenditures but, in the restricted sample of those that incur expenditures, there is weak or no evidence that the obese or overweight spend, on average, more than those of normal weight. Overall, it is estimated that in 1995/1996, more than 1.8% out-of-pocket health care expenditures were attributable to obesity and 2% to overweight (although not statistically significant). The estimated percentages are over 2.9% for obesity and 4% for overweight in 1998/1999. Combined, the estimated attributable percentage of national out-of-pocket expenditures due to excess weight was 3.8% in 1995/1996 and 6.9% in 1998/1999. Per-capita expenditures due to obesity or overweight are small, on average, in absolute terms, but they can be a significant cost for low income families. With respect to public policy concerns, the results suggest that measures which only slightly increase the out-of-pocket health care expenditures of being obese (overweight) are likely to be inefficient.
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