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Horizontal equity in health care utilization evidence from three high-income Asian economies

Author

Listed:
  • Lu, Jui-fen R.
  • Leung, Gabriel M.
  • Kwon, Soonman
  • Tin, Keith Y.K.
  • Van Doorslaer, Eddy
  • O'Donnell, Owen

Abstract

This paper compares the extent to which the principle of "equal treatment for equal need"(ETEN) is maintained in the health care delivery systems of Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. Deviations in the degree to which health care is distributed according to need are measured by an index of horizontal inequity. Income-related inequality in utilization is split into four major sources: (i) direct effect of income; (ii) need indicators (self-assessed health status, activity limitation, and age and gender interaction terms); (iii) non-need variables (education, work status, private health insurance coverage, employer-provided medical benefits, Medicaid status (low-income medical assistance), geographic region and urban/rural residency and (iv) a residual term. Service types studied include western doctor, licensed traditional medicine practitioner (LTMP), dental and emergency room (ER) visits, as well as inpatient admissions. Violations of the ETEN principle are observed for physician and dental services in Hong Kong . There is pro-rich inequity in western doctor visits. Unusually, this inequity exists for general practitioner but not specialist care. In contrast, South Korea appears to have almost comprehensively maintained ETEN although the better-off have preferential access to higher levels of outpatient care. Taiwan shows intermediate results in that the rich are marginally more likely to use outpatient services, but quantities of western doctor and dental visits are evenly distributed while there is modest pro-rich bias in the number of LTMP episodes. ER visits and inpatient admissions in Taiwan are either proportional or slightly pro-poor. Future work should focus on the evaluation of policy interventions aimed at reducing the observed unequal distributions.

Suggested Citation

  • Lu, Jui-fen R. & Leung, Gabriel M. & Kwon, Soonman & Tin, Keith Y.K. & Van Doorslaer, Eddy & O'Donnell, Owen, 2007. "Horizontal equity in health care utilization evidence from three high-income Asian economies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 199-212, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:64:y:2007:i:1:p:199-212
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sujin Kim & Soonman Kwon, 2014. "The effect of extension of benefit coverage for cancer patients on health care utilization across different income groups in South Korea," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 161-177, June.
    2. E. Xie, 2011. "Income-related inequalities of health and health care utilization," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer;Higher Education Press, vol. 6(1), pages 131-156, March.
    3. Sato, Azusa, 2012. "Do Inequalities in Health Care Utilization in Developing Countries Change When We Take into Account Traditional Medicines?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(11), pages 2275-2289.
    4. Ahmed, Shakil & Khan, M. Mahmud, 2011. "Is demand-side financing equity enhancing? Lessons from a maternal health voucher scheme in Bangladesh," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(10), pages 1704-1710, May.
    5. Wong, Irene O.L. & Cowling, Benjamin J. & Lo, Su-Vui & Leung, Gabriel M., 2009. "A multilevel analysis of the effects of neighbourhood income inequality on individual self-rated health in Hong Kong," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 124-132, January.
    6. FLEURBAEY, Marc & SCHOKKAERT, Erik, 2011. "Equity in health and health care," CORE Discussion Papers 2011026, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    7. Richard Layte & Anne Nolan, 2015. "Income-related inequity in the use of GP services by children: a comparison of Ireland and Scotland," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(5), pages 489-506, June.
    8. Makate, Marshall & Makate, Clifton, 2016. "The Evolution of Socioeconomic-Related Inequalities in Maternal Healthcare Utilization: Evidence from Zimbabwe, 1994-2011," MPRA Paper 72718, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Jul 2016.
    9. Jongnam Hwang, 2016. "Decomposing socioeconomic inequalities in the use of preventive eye screening services among individuals with diabetes in Korea," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 61(5), pages 613-620, June.
    10. Watanabe, Ryo & Hashimoto, Hideki, 2012. "Horizontal inequity in healthcare access under the universal coverage in Japan; 1986–2007," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1372-1378.
    11. Sözmen, Kaan & Ünal, Belgin, 2016. "Explaining inequalities in Health Care Utilization among Turkish adults: Findings from Health Survey 2008," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 100-110.
    12. van Doorslaer, Eddy & O'Donnell, Owen, 2008. "Measurement and Explanation of Inequality in Health and Health Care in Low-Income Settings," WIDER Working Paper Series DP2008/04, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Han, Kyu-Tae & Park, Eun-Cheol & Kim, Sun Jung, 2016. "Unmet healthcare needs and community health center utilization among the low-income population based on a nationwide community health survey," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(6), pages 630-637.
    14. Hai Zhong, 2010. "On decomposing the inequality and inequity change in health care utilization: change in means, or change in the distributions?," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 369-386, December.
    15. O'Donnell, Owen & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Rannan-Eliya, Ravi P. & Somanathan, Aparnaa & Adhikari, Shiva Raj & Akkazieva, Baktygul & Harbianto, Deni & Garg, Charu C. & Hanvoravongchai, Piya & Herrin, Ale, 2008. "Who pays for health care in Asia?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 460-475, March.
    16. Mohammad Hajizadeh & Luke B. Connelly & James R.G. Butler & Aredshir Khosravi, 2012. "Unmet need and met unneed in health care utilisation in Iran," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(6), pages 400-422, May.
    17. Adam Wagstaff, 2007. "Health systems in East Asia: what can developing countries learn from Japan and the Asian Tigers?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 441-456.
    18. Van de Poel, Ellen & Van Doorslaer, Eddy & O’Donnell, Owen, 2012. "Measurement of inequity in health care with heterogeneous response of use to need," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 676-689.
    19. Layte, Richard & Nolan, Anne, 2013. "Income-Related Inequity in the Use of GP Services: A Comparison of Ireland and Scotland," Papers WP454, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    20. Gabriel M. Leung & Keith Y. K. Tin & Owen O'Donnell, 2009. "Redistribution or horizontal equity in Hong Kong's mixed public-private health system: a policy conundrum," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 37-54.

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