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Open AccessArticle

The Effect of the Full Coverage of Essential Medicines Policy on Utilization and Accessibility of Primary Healthcare Service for Rural Seniors: A Time Series Study in Qidong, China

by Ying Wang 1, Yulei Zhu 1, Hang Shi 1, Xiaoluan Sun 1, Na Chen 2 and Xin Li 1,3,4,*
1
Department of Health Policy, School of Health Policy and Management, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 211166, China
2
School of Health Economics and Management, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 211166, China
3
Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 211166, China
4
Center for Global Health, School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 211166, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4316; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224316
Received: 20 September 2019 / Revised: 27 October 2019 / Accepted: 3 November 2019 / Published: 6 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Healthcare Services in China)
Background: Since 2015, in order to handle the increasing prevalence of age-related diseases and escalating health expenditures arising from the aging population, the full coverage of essential medicines (FCEMs) policy for rural seniors has been implemented in primary healthcare institutions of Qidong County of Jiangsu, China. The purpose of this study is to examine the long-term effects of the introduction of FCEMs’ policy on the utilization and accessibility of primary healthcare service for elderly beneficiaries. Methods: The retrospective study was conducted in Qidong County in the Jiangsu province, China. A 47-month longitudinal dataset involving 91,444 health insurance claims records of inpatients aged 70 and older in primary healthcare institutions was analyzed. Changes in health service utilization (average length of stay), patient copayments (out-of-pocket expenses), New Rural Cooperative Medical System (NRCMS) reimbursement rate and daily hospitalization costs per patient were analyzed using interrupted time series analysis. Augment Dicky-Fuller unit root method was used to test the stationarity of the series alongside the Durbin Watson method to test autocorrelation. Results: Average length of stay increased at 0.372 bed-days per month before the implementation of FCEMs policy, whereas the increasing trend was slowed down at 0.003 bed-days per month after the implementation of FCEMs policy (p < 0.001). The average out-of-pocket expenses increased by 38.035 RMB monthly in pre-implementation of the policy period, but it decreased at the rate of 5.180 RMB per month after the implementation of the FCEMs policy (p = 0.006). The NRCMS reimbursement rate increased at 0.066% per month in pre-implementation of policy and the increasing trend was sharper at 0.349% in post-implementation of policy (p = 0.135). The daily hospitalization costs per patient decreased by 6.263 RMB (p = 0.030) per month, whereas it increased at the rate of 3.119 RMB (p = 0.002) per month afterwards. Conclusions: Based on interrupted time series analyses, we concluded that FCEMs policy was associated with positive changes of average LOS and average OOP expenses. The FCEMs policy has alleviated the financial burden of the rural seniors and slightly improved the efficiency of primary health service utilization. However, it had no positive effect on daily hospitalization costs. Therefore, in the general framework of FCEMs policy, the Chinese health policy-maker should take necessary supporting measures to curb climbing hospitalization expenditures and promote the rational drug use in primary healthcare institutions. View Full-Text
Keywords: essential medicines; rural seniors; full coverage; interrupted time series essential medicines; rural seniors; full coverage; interrupted time series
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Wang, Y.; Zhu, Y.; Shi, H.; Sun, X.; Chen, N.; Li, X. The Effect of the Full Coverage of Essential Medicines Policy on Utilization and Accessibility of Primary Healthcare Service for Rural Seniors: A Time Series Study in Qidong, China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4316.

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