Eligibility for free GP care and the utilisation of GP services by children in Ireland
The majority of the Irish population pay the full out-of-pocket price of a GP visit, with only those on low incomes exempt. While there is an extensive literature analysing the impact of the Irish system of eligibility for free GP care on GP visiting rates among adults, there is a lack of evidence for children. Given the importance of socio-economic health inequalities in shaping the future outcomes of children, it is important to analyse the extent to which the current system of eligibility leads to inequities in access to GP services among Irish children. In addition, some private health insurance plans have started to offer cover for GP expenses, which adds an additional layer of complexity to the existing system of eligibility, and to date, this has not been studied. Using a large, nationally-representative data-set covering two cohorts of Irish children (9-month olds and 9-year olds), we examine the role of eligibility for free GP care in determining GP visiting rates among children. As with the adult population, the results show that, even with controls for child health, and parental and family characteristics, eligibility for free GP care is a significant determinant of GP utilisation among Irish children. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015
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Volume (Year): 15 (2015)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
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