Two-Period Comparison of Healthcare Demand with Income Growth and Population Aging in Rural China: Implications for Adjustment of the Healthcare Supply and Development
We estimate the evolution of healthcare demand under the influence of income growth and population aging with two samples of patients surveyed in the same regions, but with an interval of 18 years in rural China and with mixed logit to deal with heterogeneity. In accordance with theoretical and inductive inferences, it is found that healthcare price effects decreased and became more heterogeneous. Aging impact overweighed income growth impact, resulting in increasing distance effect and patients’ preference to proximity. In the face of this demand change, the adjustment of governmental supply should be to promote small and middle-sized healthcare providers. However during this period to cope with urbanization, the Chinese policy consisted of privileging large hospitals. This has led to a higher share of patients, especially the aging patients, to choose self-care and a higher share of poorer patients to suffer from catastrophic health expenditures. This finding carries broad implications for rural health policy-making on, along with income growth, population aging and urbanization, how to provide better coverage of rural areas by enough qualified and multifunctional small and middle-sized healthcare providers in the developing world.
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