Availability of health services vs. health condition of residents of rural areas in Poland – Analysis performed on the basis of EHIS 2009

Department of Spatial Econometrics, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of Lodz, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2015;22(4):700–703
[b]Introduction. [/b]One of the aspects considered in a debate preceding the establishment of the new retirement age in Poland, was the health condition of the Polish population. A steady increase in the average life expectancy, observed for several years, is much higher in the cities than in the country. One of the reasons for this might be a limited availability of health services in rural areas. [b]Objective[/b]. The aim of the study is to assess the scale of income-related inequalities in the access to health services in rural areas, and subsequently to assess the impact of having to give up some medical services on the subjective perception of health condition by rural inhabitants. [b]Materials and methods.[/b] Individual data derived from the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) conducted in 2009 constituted the basis for the presented analysis. The concentration index was used to measure the income-related inequalities in the use of medical services. The ordered logit model was used to verify the hypothesis that the availability of health services has an impact on the health condition. [b]Results.[/b] Significant differences in the distribution of medical services utilization with regard to income, were found only in the case of hospital services. People with low income stay in hospital more often. The obtained inequality indices show a lack of income-related inequality in the use of outpatient services. The performed analyses confirm a negative impact of giving up this type of services on the health condition of residents of rural areas. [b]Conclusions.[/b] The availability of medical services is an important determinant of the health condition. Too few medical institutions and scarce medical personnel limits the use of these services, and not only for people with low income.