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Open AccessArticle

Rural Population Aging and the Hospital Utilization in Cities: The Rise of Medical Tourism in China

1
Department of Economics, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, China
2
Research Office of E’zhou People’s Government, E’zhou 436000, China
3
School of Finance, Hubei University of Economics, Wuhan 430205, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4790; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134790
Received: 27 May 2020 / Revised: 28 June 2020 / Accepted: 30 June 2020 / Published: 3 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smart Mobility in Smart City)
The disparity of rural and urban hospital utilization has aroused much concern. With the improvement of their living standards, patients in rural areas have an emerging need for traveling across borders for better medical treatment in China. This paper reveals the medical tourism of rural residents towards urban hospitals driven by hospital needs and points out that such disparities may be caused by medical tourism. The ratio of people aged 65 and above in total rural populations was used to identify the potential target customers for medical tourism. Based on rural and urban datasets ranging from 2007–2017 on the provincial level, this paper presents a mobile treatment model and market concentration model with an ecological foundation. The feasible generalized least squared approach was used in the estimation of the fixed-effect regressions. The study found that there was a positive and significant relationship between rural old-age ratios and urban inpatient visits from different income groups. On average, a one percent rise in rural old-age ratio would increase the inpatient visits of urban hospitals by 138 thousand persons. There was also a positive and significant relationship between the rural old-age ratio and the market concentration of urban inpatient visits. It was found that the rural old-age ratio significantly influenced the market concentration of urban inpatient visits in the middle-high income regions. The research showed that each income group from the rural aged population had participated in medical tourism, traveled to urbanized regions and made inpatient visits to urbanized medical facilities. It was also indicated that the rural aged population, especially from the middle-high income groups had a positive and significant influence on the market concentration of urban inpatient visits in the province. View Full-Text
Keywords: rural population aging; medical tourism; inpatient visits; rural urban disparities rural population aging; medical tourism; inpatient visits; rural urban disparities
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Hu, B.; Peng, D.; Zhang, Y.; Yu, J. Rural Population Aging and the Hospital Utilization in Cities: The Rise of Medical Tourism in China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 4790.

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