Patricio Tavares L., Zantomio F. (2017).
Inequity in healthcare use among older people after 2008: The case of southern European countries. Health Policy, vol. 121, pp. 1063-1071
Despite the sizeable cuts in public healthcare spending, which were part of the austerity measures recently undertaken in Southern European countries, little attention has been devoted to monitoring its distributional consequences in terms of healthcare use. This study aims at measuring socioeconomic inequities in primary and secondary healthcare use experienced some time after the crisis onset in Italy, Spain and Portugal. The analysis, based on data drawn from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), focuses on older people, who generally face significantly higher healthcare needs, and whose health appeared to have worsened in the aftermath of the crisis. The Horizontal Inequity indexes reveal remarkable socioeconomic inequities in older people’s access to secondary healthcare in all three countries. In Portugal, the one country facing most severe healthcare budget cuts and where user charges apply also to GP visits, even access to primary care exhibits a significant pro-rich concentration. If reducing inequities in older people’s access to healthcare remains a policy objective, austerity measures maybe pulling the Olive belt countries further away from achieving it.