Medical insurance policy organized by Chinese government and the health inequity of the elderly: longitudinal comparison based on effect of New Cooperative Medical Scheme on health of rural elderly in 22 provinces and cities

Ying Liang, Peiyi Lu
International Journal for Equity in Health 2014, 13: 37

BACKGROUND: The alarming progression of the aging trend in China attracts much attention in the country and abroad. In 2003, the Chinese central government launched the New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS) to resolve the inequity problem of health in regions with inadequate infrastructure and relative poverty. The rural elderly are the main beneficiaries of this policy; the improvement of their health through the medical insurance policy require exploration.

METHODS: This study used data obtained from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS) conducted in 2005 and 2008. Elderly people living in rural areas and aged 60 and above were screened for the investigation. A total of 8658 and 9904 elderly people were selected from 2005 and 2008, respectively. By establishing models and employing multi-logistic analysis, stereotype logistic analysis, we examined the effect of NCMS organized by Chinese government on three domains of the health of the rural elderly.

RESULTS: A total of 948 and 6361 elderly people participated in NCMS in 2005 (n = 8658) and 2008 (n = 9904), respectively. With regard to the independent variables, the number of participants in NCMS increased, whereas province distribution, gender, and years of education only slightly changed. As for the dependent variables, the rural elderly in 2005 had poor general health but good psychological health. Differences were found between different moods. Old people who engage in much outdoor activity can take care of themselves. After three-year promotion of NCMS, the differences between 2005 and 2008 indicate that the physical function of the rural elderly worsen, whereas the general health and psychological health improves.

CONCLUSIONS: (1) In the 2005 data and 2008 data, result shows that NCMS participation can promote the self-rated quality and health change of the elderly. (2) After three years, the alleviation effect on anxiety and loneliness changed from insignificant to significant. Participants in NCMS have a stronger sense of uselessness, which weakens with time. (3 )NCMS participation passes the significance test in "outdoor activities" and "pick a book up from the floor" model. Elderly participants indicated higher frequencies of outdoor activities.

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