The impact of price subsidies on child health care use : evaluation of the Indonesian healthcard
Financial barriers to seeking care are frequently cited as one of the main causes of underutilization of child health care services. This paper estimates the impact of Indonesia's healthcard on health care use by children. Evaluation of the healthcard effect is complicated by the fact that card allocation was non-random. The analysis uses propensity score matching to control for systematic differences between treatment and control groups. A second potential source of bias is related to contemporaneous, exogenous influences on health care use unrelated to the healthcard itself. Using panel data collected prior to and after the introduction of the healthcard, a difference-in-differences estimator is constructed to eliminate the effects of exogenous changes over time. The author finds that although health care use declined for all children during the crisis years of 1997-2000, use of public sector outpatient services declined much less for children with healthcards. The protective effect of the healthcard on public sector use was concentrated among children aged 0-5 years. The healthcard had no significant impact on use of private sector services. The results highlight the need to provide adequate protection against the financial burden of health care costs, particularly during economic crises.
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