An empirical analysis of rural-urban differences in out-of-pocket health expenditures in a low-income society of China

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The paper examines whether out-of-pocket health care expenditure also has regional discrepancies, comparing to the equity between urban and rural areas, and across households. METHOD: Sampled data were derived from Urban Household Survey and Rural Household Survey data for 2011/2012 for Anhui Province, and 11049 households were included in this study. The study compared differences in out-of-pocket expenditure on health care between regions (urban vs. rural areas) and years (2011 vs. 2012) using two-sample t-test, and also investigated the degree of inequality using Lorenz and concentration curves. RESULT: Approximately 5% and 8% of total household consumption expenditure was spent on health care for urban and rural populations, respectively. In 2012, the wealthiest 20% of urban and rural population contributed 49.7% and 55.8% of urban and rural total health expenditure respectively, while the poorest 20% took only 4.7% and 4.4%. The concentration curve for out-of-pocket expenditure in 2012 fell below the corresponding concentration curve for 2011 for both urban and rural areas, and the difference between curves for rural areas was greater than that for urban areas. CONCLUSION: A substantial and increasing gap in health care expenditures existed between urban and rural areas in Anhui. The health care financing inequality merits ample attention, with need for policymaking to focus on improving the accessibility to essential health care services, particularly for rural and poor residents. This study may provide useful information on low income areas of China.

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Wang, L., Wang, A., Zhou, D., FitzGerald, G., Ye, D., & Jiang, Q. (2016). An empirical analysis of rural-urban differences in out-of-pocket health expenditures in a low-income society of China. PLoS ONE, 11(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154563

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