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      Can the reform of integrating health insurance reduce inequity in catastrophic health expenditure? Evidence from China

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          China’s fragmentation of social health insurance schemes has become a key obstacle that hampers equal access to health care and financial protection. This study aims to explores if the policy intervention Urban and Rural Residents Basic Medical Insurance (URRBMI) scheme, which integrates Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI) and New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS), can curb the persistent inequity of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) and further analyses the determinants causing inequity.


          Data were derived from the Fifth National Health Service Survey (NHSS). A total of 11,104 households covered by URRBMI and 20,590 households covered by URBMI or NCMS were selected to analyze CHE and the impoverishment rate from medical expenses. Moreover, the decomposition method based on a probit model was employed to analyse factors contributing CHE inequity.


          The overall incidence of CHE under integrated insurance scheme was 15.53%, about 1.10% higher than the non-integrated scheme; however, the intensity of CHE and impoverishment among the poorest was improved. Although CHE was still concentrated among the poor under URRBMI (CI = -0.53), it showed 28.38% lower in the degree of inequity. For URRBMI households, due to the promotion of integration reform to the utilization of rural residents’ better health services, the factor of residence (24.41%) turns out to be a major factor in increasing inequity, the factor of households with hospitalized members (− 84.53%) played a positive role in reducing inequity and factors related to social economic status also contributed significantly in increasing inequity.


          The progress made in the integrated URRBMI on CHE equity deserves recognition, even though it did not reduce the overall CHE or the impoverishment rate effectively. Therefore, for enhanced equity, more targeted solutions should be considered, such as promoting more precise insurance intervention for the most vulnerable population and including costly diseases suitable for outpatient treatment into benefit packages. Additionally, comprehensive strategies such as favourable targeted benefit packages or job creation are required for the disadvantaged.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Inequalities in access to medical care by income in developed countries.

          Most of the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) aim to ensure equitable access to health care. This is often interpreted as requiring that care be available on the basis of need and not willingness or ability to pay. We sought to examine equity in physician utilization in 21 OECD countries for the year 2000. Using data from national surveys or from the European Community Household Panel, we extracted the number of visits to a general practitioner or medical specialist over the previous 12 months. Visits were standardized for need differences using age, sex and reported health levels as proxies. We measured inequity in doctor utilization by income using concentration indices of the need-standardized use. We found inequity in physician utilization favouring patients who are better off in about half of the OECD countries studied. The degree of pro-rich inequity in doctor use is highest in the United States and Mexico, followed by Finland, Portugal and Sweden. In most countries, we found no evidence of inequity in the distribution of general practitioner visits across income groups, and where it does occur, it often indicates a pro-poor distribution. However, in all countries for which data are available, after controlling for need differences, people with higher incomes are significantly more likely to see a specialist than people with lower incomes and, in most countries, also more frequently. Pro-rich inequity is especially large in Portugal, Finland and Ireland. Although in most OECD countries general practitioner care is distributed fairly equally and is often even pro-poor, the very pro-rich distribution of specialist care tends to make total doctor utilization somewhat pro-rich. This phenomenon appears to be universal, but it is reinforced when private insurance or private care options are offered.
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            Musculoskeletal Health Conditions Represent a Global Threat to Healthy Aging: A Report for the 2015 World Health Organization World Report on Ageing and Health.

            Persistent pain, impaired mobility and function, and reduced quality of life and mental well-being are the most common experiences associated with musculoskeletal conditions, of which there are more than 150 types. The prevalence and impact of musculoskeletal conditions increase with aging. A profound burden of musculoskeletal disease exists in developed and developing nations. Notably, this burden far exceeds service capacity. Population growth, aging, and sedentary lifestyles, particularly in developing countries, will create a crisis for population health that requires a multisystem response with musculoskeletal health services as a critical component. Globally, there is an emphasis on maintaining an active lifestyle to reduce the impacts of obesity, cardiovascular conditions, cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes in older people. Painful musculoskeletal conditions, however, profoundly limit the ability of people to make these lifestyle changes. A strong relationship exists between painful musculoskeletal conditions and a reduced capacity to engage in physical activity resulting in functional decline, frailty, reduced well-being, and loss of independence. Multilevel strategies and approaches to care that adopt a whole person approach are needed to address the impact of impaired musculoskeletal health and its sequelae. Effective strategies are available to address the impact of musculoskeletal conditions; some are of low cost (e.g., primary care-based interventions) but others are expensive and, as such, are usually only feasible for developed nations. In developing nations, it is crucial that any reform or development initiatives, including research, must adhere to the principles of development effectiveness to avoid doing harm to the health systems in these settings.
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              Inequality in household catastrophic health care expenditure in a low-income society of Iran.

              We assessed change in household catastrophic health care expenditures (CHE) and inequality in facing such expenditures in south-west Tehran. A cluster-sampled survey was conducted in 2003 using the World Health Survey questionnaire. We repeated the survey on the same sample in 2008 (635 and 603 households, respectively). We estimated the proportion of households facing CHE using the 'household's capacity to pay'. We identified the determinants of the household CHE using regression analysis and used the concentration index to measure socio-economic inequality and decompose it into its determinants factors. Findings showed that the proportion of household facing CHE had no significant change in this period (12.6% in 2003 vs 11.8% in 2008). The key determinants of CHE for both years were health care utilization and health care insurance status. Socio-economic status was the main contributor to inequality in CHE, while unequal utilization of dentistry and outpatient services had reduced the inequality in CHE between socio-economic groups. We observed no significant change in the CHE proportion despite policy interventions aimed at reducing such expenditures. Any solution to the problem of CHE should include interventions aimed at the determinants of CHE. It is essential to increase the depth of social insurance coverage by expanding the basic benefit package and reducing co-payments.

                Author and article information

                Int J Equity Health
                Int J Equity Health
                International Journal for Equity in Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                3 April 2020
                3 April 2020
                : 19
                [1 ]GRID grid.410736.7, ISNI 0000 0001 2204 9268, Department of Social Medicine, Health Management College, , Harbin Medical University, ; 157 Baojian Road, Nangang District, Harbin, 150086 Heilongjiang Province China
                [2 ]Tong Zhou District’s Volunteer Services Guidance Center of Beijing Municipality, Beijing, China
                [3 ]GRID grid.260483.b, ISNI 0000 0000 9530 8833, Department of Health Management, School of Public Health, , Nantong University, ; Nantong, Jiangsu Province China
                © The Author(s). 2020

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001809, National Natural Science Foundation of China;
                Award ID: 71333003
                Award ID: 71804036
                Award ID: 71874045
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Natural Science Foundation of Heilongjiang Province, China
                Award ID: YQ2019G003
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: Think Tank of Public Health Security and Health Reform of Heilongjiang Province
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                © The Author(s) 2020

                Health & Social care

                health insurance, integration, catastrophic health expenditures, inequity


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