Time series analysis of private healthcare expenditures GDP: cointegration results with structural breaks
This paper analyses the time-series behaviour of private health expenditure and GDP to understand whether there is long-term equilibrium relationship between these two variables and estimate income elasticity of private health expenditure. The study uses cointegration analysis with structural breaks and estimates these relationships using FM OLS (fully modified ordinary least squares) method. The findings suggest that income elasticity of private health expenditures is 1.95 indicating that for every one per cent increase in per capita income the private health expenditure has gone up by 1.95 per cent. The private health expenditure was 2.4 per cent of GDP in 1960 and this has risen to 5.8 per cent in 2003. In nominal terms it has grown at the rate of 11.3 per cent since 1960 and during 1990’s the growth rate is 18 per cent per annum. The study discusses four reasons for this high growth experience. These are: (i) financing mechanisms including provider payment system, (ii) demographic trends and epidemiological transition, (iii) production function of private health services delivery system, and (iv) dwindling financing support to public health system. In developing countries where per se the need for spending on health is high, high levels of private health expenditures pose serious challenge to policy makers. The sheer size of these expenditures once it has risen to high levels can impede control of health expenditures itself. The high private health expenditures are also cause of concern because most of these expenditures are out-of-pocket, insurance mechanisms cover small segment of population, provider payment systems are primarily based on fee-for-services and the professional regulation and accountability systems are weak and non-functioning in many ways. It is not clear whether these expenditures are sustainable as it can have number of undesirable consequences making the health system high cost, unaffordable, and vulnerable to provider payment system.
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