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Public and private health care utilization differences between socioeconomic strata in Jamaica

Authors Bourne P, Eldemire-Shearer D, Paul TJ, LaGrenade J, Charles CA

Published 1 September 2010 Volume 2010:1 Pages 81—91


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Paul A Bourne1, Denise Eldemire-Shearer1, Tomlin J Paul1, Janet LaGrenade1, Christopher AD Charles2

1Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston, Jamaica; 2King Graduate School, Monroe College, New York and Center for Victim Support, Harlem Hospital Center, New York, NY, USA

Objective: To assess trends in the use of private and public health care services among Jamaicans over a 15-year period (1991–2007).

Design and methods:
Statistics on the use of health care services were taken from the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC) for the 15-year period 1993 to 2007. Use of hospital services were represented in income quintiles and compared for private and public facilities. The difference in percentage use between public and private was compared by quintiles over the period and the variability in those differentials assessed.

This study highlights the increasing use of private services by increasing wealth, exaggerated for the wealthiest quintile. There is a widening of the differences in utilization between public and private centers as income level increases (P < 0.001).

Internal and external economic conditions influence the use of private and public health care services in Jamaica. Although the relative increase in the cost (to the user) of public health care is more than that for private health care, the actual cost to use the public health care system is still significantly cheaper than using the private system. Lower income health care users tend to take the lesser cost option.

Keywords: health care utilization, public–private health differentials

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