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Financial protection in health among the middle-aged and elderly: evidence from the Greek economic recession

Kyriopoulos, Ilias, Nikoloski, Zlatko and Mossialos, Elias (2021) Financial protection in health among the middle-aged and elderly: evidence from the Greek economic recession. Health Policy, 125 (9). 1256 - 1266. ISSN 0168-8510

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2021.05.010


Since the late 2000s, the Greek economy has entered a long period of recession, with reforms and retrenchment in health care being among the main public policy priorities. This study investigates the extent to which financial protection in health has changed among older households during the Greek crisis. We focus on the middle-aged and elderly, the heavy users of health services, who have faced a substantial health and financial burden during the crisis. Our analysis shows that the headcount and overshoot of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) substantially increased from 2007 to 2015, suggesting that financial protection has eroded to a great extent. Prior to the crisis, CHE was mainly due to inpatient care, followed by outpatient care and medicines. However, the contribution of spending for outpatient medicines to CHE substantially increased during the study period. The headcount of CHE rose across all socioeconomic groups we examined, with low-income households and households with chronic patients being disproportionately affected. In 2007, we do not report signs of socioeconomic inequalities in the risk of CHE. On the contrary, our results show that households of low socioeconomic status are more likely to incur CHE in 2015, revealing substantial inequalities in the risk of CHE. This finding raises significant distributional and equity concerns. Strengthening financial protection among older households is an imperative challenge for the Greek health system, and several policy responses need to be adopted towards this direction.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Health Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2022 13:12
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2022 13:12

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