Distribution of illness and medical expenditure: a survey in two villages in rural Beijing

Jie Song, Hong Ji, Benchang Shia, Shuangge Ma
PloS One 2013, 8 (4): e61068

BACKGROUND: The main goal of this study is to examine the distributions of illness conditions and resulting medical expenditures and their associated factors. To achieve this goal, an in-house survey was conducted in August of 2012 in rural Beijing, the capital city of China.

RESULTS: The survey was conducted in Nanjianchang and Beijianchang, which are two villages 20 KM away from Miyun, a satellite city of Beijing. Data was collected on 346 households, which included 834 members. Variables measured included household characteristics, household head characteristics, illness conditions, and medical expenditures. Illness conditions and corresponding expenditure were measured for inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and self-treatment separately. Multivariate analysis suggested that the presence of inpatient treatment was associated with household head characteristics including age, gender, and education. The presence of a high level of outpatient treatment was associated with household head characteristics including gender and education. The presence of a high level of self-treatment was significantly associated with household size. In the analysis of overall out-of-pocket (OOP) medical expenditure, only age of household head was borderline significant. In the analysis of OOP inpatient expenditure, age and gender of household head were borderline significant. The OOP outpatient expenditure was associated with household size, presence of members older than 60, household head's gender, marital status, and occupation. The OOP self-treatment expenditure was not associated with any household characteristic.

CONCLUSIONS: For the surveyed households, medical expenditure made up a considerable proportion of the total consumption. This study suggested that the presence of illness conditions and resulting OOP medical expenditure were associated with certain household and household head characteristics. Such results may help identify the subgroup that is the most affected by illness conditions. As this study collected recent data on inpatient, outpatient, and self-treatment separately, it may provide a useful complement to the existing studies.

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