Horizontal inequity in public health care service utilization for non-communicable diseases in urban Vietnam

Vu Duy Kien, Hoang Van Minh, Kim Bao Giang, Lars Weinehall, Nawi Ng
Global Health Action 2014, 7: 24919

BACKGROUND: A health system that provides equitable health care is a principal goal in many countries. Measuring horizontal inequity (HI) in health care utilization is important to develop appropriate and equitable public policies, especially policies related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey of 1,211 randomly selected households in slum and non-slum areas was carried out in four urban districts of Hanoi city in 2013. This study utilized data from 3,736 individuals aged 15 years and older. Respondents were asked about health care use during the previous 12 months; information included sex, age, and self-reported NCDs. We assessed the extent of inequity in utilization of public health care services. Concentration indexes for health care utilization and health care needs were constructed via probit regression of individual utilization of public health care services, controlling for age, sex, and NCDs. In addition, concentration indexes were decomposed to identify factors contributing to inequalities in health care utilization.

RESULTS: The proportion of healthcare utilization in the slum and non-slum areas was 21.4 and 26.9%, respectively. HI in health care utilization in favor of the rich was observed in the slum areas, whereas horizontal equity was achieved among the non-slum areas. In the slum areas, we identified some key factors that affect the utilization of public health care services.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that to achieve horizontal equity in utilization of public health care services, policy should target preventive interventions for NCDs, focusing more on the poor in slum areas.

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