Trend of Urban-Rural Disparities in Hospital Admissions and Medical Expenditure in China from 2003 to 2011

Rong Fu, Yupeng Wang, Han Bao, Zhiqiang Wang, Yongquan Li, Shaofei Su, Meina Liu

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Abstract

Objectives: To assess the trend of urban-rural disparities in hospital admissions and medical expenditure between 2003 and 2011 in the context of Chinese health-care system reform.

Methods: The data were from three different national surveys: the Third National Health Services Survey in 2003, the Fourth National Health Services Survey in 2008 and the national health-care reform phased assessment survey in 2011. There were 151421, 143380 and 48356 respondents aged 15 years or older in 2003, 2008 and 2011, respectively.

Results: The health insurance coverage expanded considerably from 27.7% in 2003 to 96.4% in 2011 among respondents aged 15 years or older. Hospitalization rate increased rapidly from 4.1% in 2003 to 9.6% in 2011. Urban respondents had higher hospital admissions than rural respondents, and the RR (95% CI) of hospitalization was 1.23 (1.17–1.30), 1.06 (1.02–1.10) and 1.16 (1.10–1.23) in 2003, 2008 and 2011, respectively. The urban-rural disparity in hospital admissions significantly narrowed over time. Urban respondents had a higher admission rate if insured and a lower admission if not insured than their rural counterparts. Of the six medical expenditure measures, the disparities in reimbursement rate and the proportion of hospitalization direct cost to the total consumer spending significantly narrowed.

Conclusions: The health insurance coverage has been continually expanding and health service utilization has been substantially improved. Urban-rural disparities have been narrowed but still exist. Therefore, policy-makers should focus on increasing investment and reimbursement levels, developing a uniform standard health insurance system for urban and rural residents and improving the medical assistance system.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere108571
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalPLoS One
Volume9
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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