What is the long term impact of voucher scheme on primary care? Findings from a repeated cross sectional study using propensity score matching
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AbstractBackground:
Vouchers are increasingly used as a demand-side subsidy to reduce financial hardship and improve quality of services. Elderly Healthcare Voucher Scheme has been introduced by the Hong Kong Government since 2009 to provide subsidy to elderly aged 65 and above to visit ten different types of private primary care providers for curative, preventive and chronic disease management. Several enhancements have been made over the past few years. This paper (as part of an evaluation study of this unique healthcare voucher scheme) aims to assess the long term impact of the voucher scheme in encouraging the use of primary care services.
Methods:
Two rounds of cross-sectional survey among elderly in Hong Kong were conducted in 2010 and 2016. Propensity score matching and analysis were used to compare changes in perception and usage of vouchers over time.
Results:
61.5% of respondents in 2016 agreed “the scheme encourages me to use more private primary care services”, a significant increase from 36.2% in 2010. Among those who agreed in 2016, the majority thought the voucher scheme would encourage them to use acute services (90.3%) in the private sector, rather than preventive care (40.3%) and chronic disease management (12.2%). Respondents also reported that their current usual choice of care was visiting “both public and private doctors” (61.9%), representing a significant increase (up from 48.4%) prior to their use of voucher.
Conclusions:
The voucher scheme has encouraged the use of more private care services, particularly acute services rather than disease prevention or management of chronic disease. However, there needs to be caution that the untargeted and open-ended nature of voucher scheme could result in supply-induced demand which would affect long term financial sustainability. The dual utilization of health services in both the public and private sector may also compromise continuity and quality of care. The design of the voucher needs to be more specific, targeting prevention and chronic disease management rather than unspecified care which is mainly acute and episodic in order to maximize service delivery capacity as a whole for equitable access in universal health coverage and to contribute to a sustainable financing system.
All Author(s) ListYam CHK, Wong ELY, Fung VLH, Griffiths SM, Yeoh EK
Journal nameBMC Health Services Research
Year2019
Month11
Day21
Volume Number19
Article number875
Pages1 - 11
ISSN1472-6963
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
KeywordsVoucher, Preventive care, Disease prevention, Chronic disease

Last updated on 2020-06-08 at 00:42