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.


Inequalities in unmet needs for health care

This chapter focuses on individuals who have faced barriers in accessing health care and as a result declare that their needs have not been met, and it assesses the extent to which the distribution of unmet needs is unequal across income groups. The chapter starts with a brief discussion of the unmet needs variable and how it relates to other access measures. Unmet needs across income groups are then analysed for 31 countries. Reasons for unmet needs which are more linked to the supply of services - distance and waiting time - are first reviewed, followed by affordability. Where possible, the analysis of unmet needs for financial reasons explores medical care, dental care and prescription drugs separately. The chapter concludes by analysing patterns of unmet needs across countries.


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