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.


Affordability and financial protection: Insights from Europe

High out-of-pocket payments for health care services can prevent patients from seeking needed care or can cause financial hardship among those who do. This chapter analyses the affordability of health care services in European countries and explores the extent to which poorer households are more likely to face financial hardship when seeking care. The chapter analyses possible gaps in coverage in EU and OECD countries that can lead to financial hardship and explores whether voluntary health insurance can compensate for gaps in publicly financed coverage. Gaps in coverage are explored from different dimensions, first looking into population groups that may go without coverage before comparing the scope and depth of coverage for different types of care across countries. This discussion will help to identify some key features of coverage that contribute to explaining differences in financial protection across different population groups and countries.


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