Inequity in a market-based health system: Evidence from Canada's dental sector
We study the extent and drivers of income-related inequity in utilization of dental services in Canada using the concentration-index approach that has been widely applied to study inequity in physician and hospital services. Because dental care is almost wholly privately financed in Canada, our estimates provide a benchmark for income-related inequity of utilization in private health systems. Although a number of studies document a link between income and utilization, our study is one of the few measuring income-related inequity in dental care utilization. A unique feature of our study is that we analyze separately inequity in total dental visits and in preventive visits. This is important because the case for equity is much clearer for preventive dental care. We also examine the impact of controlling for need using a wider variety of need indicators than previous analyses. We confirm that most oral health indicators perform poorly as need adjustors because they reflect past dental care use: individuals with higher levels of utilization also are in better oral health. Our most important finding is that access to preventive care is the most "pro-rich" type of dental care utilization and that income-related inequity in preventive dental care utilization is three times larger than what is measured for specialist services utilization in Canada.
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