Does Universal Health Insurance Coverage Reduce Unmet Healthcare Needs in China? Evidence from the National Health Service Survey
Background: China has nearly achieved universal health insurance coverage, but considerable unmet healthcare needs still exist. Although this topic has attracted great attention, there have been few studies examining the relationship between universal health insurance coverage and unmet healthcare needs. This study aimed to clarify the impact of universal health insurance coverage and other associated factors on Chinese residents' unmet healthcare needs.Methods: Data was derived from the
... fifth, and sixth National Health Service Survey of Jiangsu Province, which were conducted in 2008, 2013, and 2018, respectively. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the prevalence of unmet healthcare needs. Binary multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate the association between unmet healthcare needs and universal health insurance coverage, along with other socioeconomic factors.Results: 8.99%, 1.37%, 53.37%, and 13.16% of the respondents in Jiangsu Province reported non-use of outpatient services, inpatient services, physical examinations, and early discharge from hospital, respectively. The trend in the prevalence of unmet healthcare needs showed a decline from 2008 to 2018. Health insurance had a significant reducing effect on non-use of outpatient services, inpatient services, or early discharge from hospital. People having health insurance in 2013 and 2018 were significantly less likely to report unmet healthcare needs compared to those in 2008. The effect of health insurance and its universal coverage on reducing unmet healthcare needs was greater in rural than in urban areas. Other socioeconomic factors, such as age, marital status, educational level, income level, or health status, also significantly affected unmet healthcare needs.Conclusions: Universal health insurance coverage has significantly reduced Chinese residents' unmet healthcare needs. Policy efforts should pay more attention to the benefits of health insurances in rural areas and optimize urban-rural health resources to promote effective utilization of healthcare.