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Unmet medical needs and health care accessibility in seven countries of Eastern Europe

Sowa, P. Marcin and Butler, James R.G. and Connelly, Luke B. (2014): Unmet medical needs and health care accessibility in seven countries of Eastern Europe. Published in: PhD Thesis, Australian National University (2014)

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Abstract

The study investigated the magnitude and structure of health care access barriers and utilisation inequalities in seven countries of Eastern Europe. Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia were examined over the period 2005-2009. The dataset containing 574,390 observations was derived from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). Logit and multinomial logit models were estimated for each country-year combination to inspect the relationship between respondents’ socio-economic characteristics, the probability of reporting unmet needs for examination or treatment, and the reason for the need not being met.

We found that health care was most easily accessible in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Affordability issues and prohibitive waiting times were prevalent in Poland and the Baltic States. Mobility and information represented minor access barriers. The poorest households, the unemployed, working age cohorts and women were more exposed to problems in accessing health care than the population at large. Access conditions improved over the analysed period.

Substantial differences exist among countries that constitute an arguably homogenous group of post-communist, new EU member states. The nature of access barriers is indicative of coverage gaps and inadequacy of public sector resources relative to need, which call for systemic solutions.

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