Original Paper

The European Journal of Health Economics

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 21-33

First online:

Income-related inequalities and inequities in health care services utilisation in 18 selected OECD countries

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Abstract

A key policy objective in OECD countries is to achieve adequate access to health care for all people on the basis of need. Previous studies have shown that there are inequities in health care services utilisation (HCSU) in the OECD area. In recent years, measures have been taken to enhance health care access. This paper re-examines income-related inequities in doctor visits among 18 selected OECD countries, updating previous results for 12 countries with 2006–2009 data, and including six new countries. Inequalities in preventive care services are also considered for the first time. The indirect standardisation procedure is used to estimate the need-adjusted HCSU and concentration indexes are derived to gauge inequalities and inequities. Overall, inequities in HCSU remain present in OECD countries. In most countries, for the same health care needs, people with higher incomes are more likely to consult a doctor than those with lower incomes. Pro-rich inequalities in dental visits and cancer screening uptake are also found in nearly all countries, although the magnitude of these varies among countries. These findings suggest that further monitoring of inequalities is essential in order to assess whether country policy objectives are achieved on a regular basis.

Keywords

Inequality Inequity Doctor visit Preventive care Health care access

JEL Classification

I10 I14