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Socioeconomic distribution of GP visits following patient choice reform and differences in reimbursement models: Evidence from Sweden

Journal article
Authors S. Svereus
Gustav Kjellsson
C. Rehnberg
Published in Health Policy
Volume 122
Issue 9
Pages 949-956
ISSN 0168-8510
Publication year 2018
Published at Centre for Health Economics
Department of Economics
Pages 949-956
Language en
Keywords Health economics, Health care reform, Health care disparities, Patient choice, Primary care, Sweden, income-related inequalities, health-care, medical-care, english nhs, equity, competition, systems, services, incentives, morbidity
Subject categories Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


Objective: This study aims to analyse changes in the socioeconomic distribution of GP visits following primary care patient choice reform, and to compare their magnitude and direction in pure capitation, versus capitation/activity-based mixed, provider reimbursement settings. Methods: We compute absolute and relative concentration indices using total population registry data from three Swedish counties (N similar to 3.6 million) two years pre, to two years post, reform. We decompose the indices by the contribution of first, non-recurrent and recurrent visits, and compare their changes in the different provider reimbursement settings. Results: In all three counties, the number of visits increased for all population groups. Increases were larger, and distributional changes more pro-poor, in the county with mixed reimbursement. Visit increases were mostly driven by recurrent and, especially, non-recurrent, visits, which were increasingly pro-poor in all counties in absolute, but not in relative, terms. First visits either became decreasingly pro-poor, or did not change significantly. Exclusion of high users removed the pro-poor patterns in the two counties with pure capitation. Conclusions: The reform led to increased access to GP visits, but implied small changes in their socioeconomic distribution. In combination with provider reimbursement models with incentives for higher visit volumes, changes were more pro-poor over time, but it is not clear whether this was at the expense of reduced visit length or content.

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