Inequity in healthcare use among the indigenous population living in non-remote areas of Australia.

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Public health, 2020, 186, pp. 35-43
Issue Date:
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OBJECTIVES:Although several studies have examined the gap in healthcare use between indigenous and non-indigenous people, empirical evidence on inequity in healthcare use within indigenous populations is limited. This study aims to fill this gap in the literature by investigating income-related inequity (unequal use for equal need) in healthcare use among indigenous Australians living in non-remote areas. STUDY DESIGN:This is a cross-sectional study. METHODS:This study used data from the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2012-13. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association of income with the probability of a general practitioner (GP) visit, a specialist visit and inpatient admission. The horizontal inequity (HI) index and decomposition analysis were also used to quantify and explain inequity in healthcare use. RESULTS:No consistent association was found between income and the probability of GP visit or inpatient admission after controlling for health need. However, the likelihood of visiting a specialist was about three times (odds ratio = 2.96, P = 0.028) higher for the richest compared with the poorest population subgroups. The inequity index was 0.016 (P < 0.001), indicating a pro-rich inequity for the probability of visiting a specialist. Income inequality, unequal distribution of private health insurance and inequality in education were the main factors explaining the pro-rich inequity in specialist utilisation. CONCLUSIONS:Although there was no income-related inequity in GP visits or inpatient admissions, wealthier indigenous Australians had a higher probability of visiting a specialist than their poorer counterparts, after adjusting for need. Specific policies and initiatives are required to address the inequity faced by low-income indigenous people in Australia.
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