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Waiting times and socioeconomic status: Evidence from England

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  • Laudicella, Mauro
  • Siciliani, Luigi
  • Cookson, Richard

Abstract

Waiting times for elective surgery, like hip replacement, are often referred to as an equitable rationing mechanism in publicly-funded healthcare systems because access to care is not based on socioeconomic status. Previous work has established that that this may not be the case and there is evidence of inequality in NHS waiting times favouring patients living in the least deprived neighbourhoods in England. We advance the literature by explaining variations of inequalities in waiting times in England in four different ways. First, we ask whether inequalities are driven by education rather than income. Our analysis shows that education and income deprivation have distinct effects on waiting time. Patients in the first quintile with least deprivation in education wait 9% less than patients in the second quintile and 14% less than patients in the third-to-fifth quintile. Patients in the fourth and fifth most income-deprived quintile wait about 7% longer than patients in the least deprived quintile. Second, we investigate whether inequalities arise “across” hospitals or “within” the hospital. The analysis provides evidence that most inequalities occur within hospitals rather than across hospitals. Moreover, failure to control for hospital fixed effects results in underestimation of the income gradient. Third, we explore whether inequalities arise across the entire waiting time distribution. Inequalities between better educated patients and other patients occur over large part of the waiting time distribution. Moreover we find that the education gradient becomes smaller for very long waiting. Fourth, we investigate whether the gradient may reflect the fact that patients with higher socioeconomic status have a different severity as proxied through a range of types and the number of diagnoses (in addition to age and gender) compared to those with lower socioeconomic status. We find no evidence that differences in severity explain the social gradient in waiting times.

Suggested Citation

  • Laudicella, Mauro & Siciliani, Luigi & Cookson, Richard, 2012. "Waiting times and socioeconomic status: Evidence from England," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(9), pages 1331-1341.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:74:y:2012:i:9:p:1331-1341
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.12.049
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Cookson & Carol Proppper & Miqdad Asaria & Rosalind Raine, 2016. "Socioeconomic inequalities in health care in England," Working Papers 129cherp, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.
    2. Carlsen, Fredrik & Kaarboe, Oddvar Martin, 2015. "The relationship between educational attainment and waiting time among the elderly in Norway," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(11), pages 1450-1458.
    3. Cookson, Richard & Laudicella, Mauro & Donni, Paolo Li, 2013. "Does hospital competition harm equity? Evidence from the English National Health Service," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 410-422.
    4. Gutacker, Nils & Siciliani, Luigi & Cookson, Richard, 2016. "Waiting time prioritisation: Evidence from England," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 140-151.
    5. Sharma, Anurag & Siciliani, Luigi & Harris, Anthony, 2013. "Waiting times and socioeconomic status: Does sample selection matter?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 659-667.
    6. Oddvar Kaarboe & Fredrik Carlsen, 2014. "Waiting Times And Socioeconomic Status. Evidence From Norway," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(1), pages 93-107, January.
    7. Giuntella, Osea & Nicodemo, Catia & Vargas-Silva, Carlos, 2015. "The Effects of Immigration on NHS Waiting Times," IZA Discussion Papers 9351, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Silviya Nikolova & Arthur Sinko & Matt Sutton, 2015. "Do maximum waiting time guarantees change clinical priorities for elective treatment? Evidence from Scotland," Working Papers 1501, Academic Unit of Health Economics, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds.
    9. Johar, Meliyanni & Jones, Glenn & Keane, Micheal P. & Savage, Elizabeth & Stavrunova, Olena, 2013. "Discrimination in a universal health system: Explaining socioeconomic waiting time gaps," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 181-194.
    10. Johar, Meliyanni & Jones, Glenn & Keane, Micheal P. & Savage, Elizabeth & Stavrunova, Olena, 2013. "Discrimination in a universal health system: Explaining socioeconomic waiting time gaps," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 181-194.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Waiting times; Socioeconomic status; Healthcare inequalities; England; UK;

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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