Equity in health care utilization in Chile
One of the most extensive Chilean health care reforms occurred in July 2005, when the Regime of Explicit Health Guarantees (AUGE) became effective. This reform guarantees coverage for a specific set of health conditions. Thus, the purpose of this study is to provide timely evidence for policy makers to understand the current distribution and equity of health care utilization in Chile. The authors analyzed secondary data from the National Socioeconomic Survey (CASEN) for the years 1992–2009 and the 2006 Satisfaction and Out-of-Pocket Payment Survey to assess equity in health care utilization using two different approaches. First, we used a two-part model to estimate factors associated with the utilization of health care. Second, we decomposed income related inequalities in medical care use into contributions of need and non-need factors and estimated a horizontal inequity index. Findings of this empirical study include evidence of inequities in the Chilean health care system that are beneficial to the better-off. We also identified some key factors, including education and health care payment, which affect the utilization of health care services. Results of this study could help researchers and policy makers identify targets for improving equity in health care utilization and strengthening availability of health care services accordingly.