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Impact of Universal Health Care Coverage on patient demand for health care services in Thailand

  • Panpiemras, Jirawat
  • Puttitanun, Thitima
  • Samphantharak, Krislert
  • Thampanishvong, Kannika
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    Fully implemented in Thailand in 2002, the Universal Health Care Coverage (UC) Program aimed to provide cheap access to health care services, for 30 baht (less than 1 U.S. dollar) per visit, to all uninsured Thais. In this paper, we studied the impact of the UC in Thailand on the demand for health care services using hospital level data. We found that the UC program was successful in increasing outpatient demand for health care, particularly the demand from the elderly and the poor. However, outpatient demand for health care dramatically increased during the first year of the program and faded away quickly in subsequent years. In contrast to outpatient demand, the number of inpatient visits and the number of days for which the inpatients were admitted at hospitals declined after the UC program was launched. In this paper, we offer our explanation of these phenomena, highlight problems associated with the UC program, and provide policy recommendations to improve the program.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168851011001795
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Health Policy.

    Volume (Year): 103 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 228-235

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:103:y:2011:i:2:p:228-235
    DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2011.08.008
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/healthpol

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    1. Hughes, David & Leethongdee, Songkramchai & Osiri, Sunantha, 2010. "Using economic levers to change behaviour: The case of Thailand's universal coverage health care reforms," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 447-454, February.
    2. Joseph P. Newhouse & Charles E. Phelps, 1976. "New Estimates of Price and Income Elasticities of Medical Care Services," NBER Chapters, in: The Role of Health Insurance in the Health Services Sector, pages 261-320 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Suraratdecha, Chutima & Saithanu, Somying & Tangcharoensathien, Viroj, 2005. "Is universal coverage a solution for disparities in health care?: Findings from three low-income provinces of Thailand," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 272-284, September.
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