The Inverse Care Law Revisited: Socio Economic Status and the Usage of Doctor Services Health Services Research Conference, November Canberra

Sharyn Lymer, Laurie Brown, Ann Harding

    Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

    Abstract

    Background: There is a wealth of literature that records the presence of a socio-economic gradient in health that is, increasing socio-economic disadvantage is associated with increased mortality, morbidity and associated risk behaviours. This study investigated current Australian doctor service use and the distribution of benefits provided through the medical benefits scheme (MBS) across income groups.
    Method: A health microsimulation model of the medical sector, based on the ABS National Health Survey 2001(NHS01), was used for this investigation. Included in the model were annualised estimates of visits to a doctor, as well as cost data (doctors' charge and MBS benefit received) based on data obtained from the Health Insurance Commission. Age-sex standardised rates and rate ratios were used for comparisons of use of GPs, the GP charges for services and MBS benefits received across income groups.
    Results: While our results maybe refined, the preliminary analysis suggests that Australians of lower socio-economic status are about 20 per cent more likely than higher socio-economic status Australians to visit a doctor in a year.
    Conclusions: Our study shows that use of doctor services varies with socio-economic status, even after age-sex standardisation. The variation seen does not support the inverse care law assumption that those with higher incomes access services more.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationCanberra
    PublisherNATSEM
    Pages1-16
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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