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Inequity in publicly funded physician care: what is the role of private prescription drug insurance?

  • Sara Allin

    (LSE Health, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)

  • Jeremiah Hurley

    (Department of Economics and Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

This study examines the impact that private financing of prescription drugs in Canada has on equity in the utilization of publicly financed physician services. The complementary nature of prescription drugs and physician service use alongside the reliance on private finance for drugs may induce an income gradient in the use of physicians. We use established econometric methods based on concentration curves to measure equity in physician utilization and its contributors in the province of Ontario. We find that individuals with prescription drug insurance make more physician visits than do those without insurance, and the effect on utilization is stronger for the likelihood of a visit than the conditional number of visits, and stronger for individuals with at least one chronic condition than those with no conditions. Results of the equity analyses reveal that the most important contributors to the pro-rich inequity in physician utilization are income and private prescription drug insurance, while public insurance, which covers older people and those on social assistance, has a pro-poor effect. These findings highlight that inequity in access to and use of publicly funded services may arise from the interaction with privately financed health services that are complements to the use of public services. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1428
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 10 ()
Pages: 1218-1232

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:10:p:1218-1232
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Thomas C. Buchmueller & Agnès Couffinhal & Michel Grignon & Marc Perronnin, 2004. "Access to physician services: does supplemental insurance matter? Evidence from France," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 669-687.
  2. Wagstaff, Adam & Van Doorslaer, Eddy & Watanabe, Naoko, 2001. "On decomposing the causes of health sector inequalities with an application to malnutrition inequalities in Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2714, The World Bank.
  3. Dolores Jiménez-Rubio & Peter C. Smith & Eddy Van Doorslaer, 2008. "Equity in health and health care in a decentralised context: evidence from Canada," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 377-392.
  4. Kakwani, Nanak & Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1997. "Socioeconomic inequalities in health: Measurement, computation, and statistical inference," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 87-103, March.
  5. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Paci, Pierella, 1991. "On the measurement of horizontal inequity in the delivery of health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 169-205, July.
  6. Amitabh Chandra & Jonathan Gruber & Robin McKnight, 2007. "Patient Cost-Sharing, Hospitalization Offsets, and the Design of Optimal Health Insurance for the Elderly," NBER Working Papers 12972, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  8. Kapur, Vishnu & Basu, Kisalaya, 2005. "Drug coverage in Canada: who is at risk?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 181-193, February.
  9. Jeremiah Hurley & Emmanuel Guindon, 2008. "Private Health Insurance in Canada," Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis Working Paper Series 2008-04, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis (CHEPA), McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.
  10. Lori J. Curtis & William J. MacMinn, 2007. "Health-Care Utilization in Canada: 25 Years of Evidence," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 190, McMaster University.
  11. Baoping Shang & Dana P. Goldman, 2007. "Prescription Drug Coverage and Elderly Medicare Spending," NBER Working Papers 13358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mark Stabile, 2001. "Private insurance subsidies and public health care markets: evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 921-942, November.
  13. repec:mpr:mprres:2479 is not listed on IDEAS
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