Health for Everyone?

Social Inequalities in Health and Health Systems

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Good health is a key component of people’s well-being. It is a value in itself but – through its influence on social, education and labour market outcomes – being in good or bad health has also wider implications on people’s chances of leading a fulfilling and productive life. Yet, even in the OECD countries, health inequality persists with severe consequences on the goal of promoting inclusive growth. This report documents a comprehensive range of inequalities in health and health systems to the detriment of disadvantaged population groups in a large set of OECD and EU countries. It assesses the gaps in health outcomes and risk factors between different socio-economic groups. When it comes to health systems, the report measures inequalities in health care utilisation, unmet needs and the affordability of health care services. For each of these different domains, the report identifies groups of countries that display higher, intermediate, and low levels of inequality. The report makes a strong case for addressing health-related inequalities as a key component of a policy strategy to promote inclusive growth and reduce social inequalities. It also provides a framework for more in-depth analyses on how to address these inequalities at country level.



Health-related inequalities: Framework and key findings

This chapter provides an overview of the report on socio-economic inequalities in health and health systems. It presents the rationale of the report as well as the overall approach selected to analyse inequalities in 33 OECD and EU countries. Key findings on inequalities in risk factors and health outcomes are discussed followed by a presentation of inequalities in utilisation of health services, unmet needs for health care and financial hardship when seeking care. The results confirm that people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds frequently are in worse health, have higher exposure to risk factors and struggle more to access the health system than the better-off or better educated. However, the extent of these inequalities differs across countries. The chapter also assesses whether some countries systematically concentrate inequalities in health and health systems and concludes by discussing policy options to redress them.


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