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Can medical insurance coverage reduce disparities of income in elderly patients requiring long-term care? The case of the People’s Republic of China

Authors Zhang Z, Wang J, Jin M, Li M, Zhou L, Jing F, Chen K

Received 5 December 2013

Accepted for publication 20 February 2014

Published 8 May 2014 Volume 2014:9 Pages 771—777


Checked for plagiarism Yes

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Peer reviewer comments 3

Zhenyu Zhang,1 Jianbing Wang,1 Mingjuan Jin,1 Mei Li,1 Litao Zhou,2 Fangyuan Jing,1 Kun Chen1

1Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Zhejiang University, Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China; 2Quality Control Department, Zhejiang Hospital, Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China

Background: The People’s Republic of China’s population is aging rapidly, partly because of the impact of the one-child policy and improvements in the health care system. Caring for bedridden seniors can be a challenge for many families in the People’s Republic of China.
Objective: To identify the inequality of income among different age groups and social statuses, and evaluate the medical burden and health insurance compensation in the People’s Republic of China.
Methods: We measured income inequality and insurance compensation levels among bedridden patients in Zhejiang province, People’s Republic of China. Factor analysis and Gini coefficients were used to evaluate degree of income inequality and insurance compensation level.
Results: We found distinct regional disparities in Zhejiang province, including the aspects of income, expenses, and time. Gini coefficients of older adults with long-term care needs in urban and rural areas were 0.335 and 0.602, respectively. In all age groups, Gini coefficients increased after adjustment for medical expenditures, and the inequality persisted after insurance reimbursement was taken into consideration.
Conclusion: A significant income disparity between rural and urban areas was observed. Inequality increased with age, and medical expenditure is a huge burden for older people with long-term care needs. Health insurance does not play an important role in reducing inequalities among patients who need long-term care services.

Keywords: Gini coefficient, bedridden, long-term care, insurance

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