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Equity in access to healthcare among the urban elderly in China: does health insurance matter?




The aim of this study was to examine if inequity in healthcare among the urban elderly in China has been improved through the implementation of Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI).

Methods and data source

We used the data from a nationwide household health survey conducted between December 2011 and February 2012 to compare the needs, uses, and non-uses of health services of the 7618 urban Chinese elderly 60 years and older covered by two different health insurance schemes. Frequency and percentages were used to examine the data.


Significant inequity in health service uses existed among different socioeconomic groups and the people covered by two different health insurance schemes. Compared with the elderly covered by Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance, the elderly covered by URBMI had much lower rates of service use and higher non-use rates of health services.


Universal health insurance coverage alone cannot mitigate the existing inequity in healthcare; the Chinese government must develop appropriate financial policies and measures to provide more financial support to URBMI in order to improve equitable and affordable access to healthcare. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.