Economic class and differential access to care: comparisons among health care systems

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19 Scopus citations


This paper presents a new technique for describing inequality of access to medical care. Access is described by the empirical relationship between need and the probability of entering the health care system for treatment. The need entry probability relationship for one population group is compared with that for another population group to determine the extent of access differentials (differences in entry probabilities) at varying levels of need. As an illustrative application, the technique is employed to describe access differentials by economic class in 6 different geographic areas located in 5 different countries (Canada, England, Finland, Poland, United States) with differently structured health care systems. Although the findings for adults varied considerably from area to area, the access differentials among children were suprisingly consistent and unrelated to health care system structure. In particular, it appears that higher family income is associated with greater access to medical care among children at all levels of need. The paper concludes with suggestions for further applications of the proposed technique to problems of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of policies aimed at reducing the extent of access inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-395
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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