Older people health and access to healthcare: a retrospective look at inequality dynamics over the past decade. Politica Economica, vol. 3/2019 (ISSN 1120-9496
The past decade of austerity measures has severely hit Public Healthcare provision in Italy, entailing significant reductions in per capita expenditure, particularly in Regions put under «Healthcare Budget Recovery Plans», mostly in the South of the country. Building on data on individuals aged 50 or older drawn from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, we compute time- and area-specific Concentration and Horizontal Inequity indexes, to assess the evolution of inequity in older people health and healthcare access (i.e. GP contacts and specialists’ visits) across Italian macro-areas since the Great Recession onset. Results show that in the North, while health has been improving on average, income-related inequality in health has increased; in the South, while on average health has not improved, the concentration of bad health among the income-poor has decreased. Sizeable inequity in access to specialists’ visits emerges throughout the country, and generally worsened since before the crisis onset. Evidence overall suggests that in the South, along the crisis, under worsened income conditions and Public Healthcare budget cuts, poorer older individuals might have substituted specialised care with increased family doctors’ visits.