The differences in health care utilization between medical aid and health insurance: A longitudinal study using propensity score matching

Jae Hyun Kim, Kwang Soo Lee, Ki Bong Yoo, Eun Cheol Park

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Study Objectives Health care utilization has progressively increased, especially among Medical Aid beneficiaries in South Korea. The Medical Aid classifies beneficiaries into two categories, type 1 and 2, on the basis of being incapable (those under 18 or over 65 years of age, or disabled) or capable of working, respectively. Medical Aid has a high possibility for health care utilization due to high coverage level. In South Korea, the national health insurance (NHI) achieved very short time to establish coverage for the entire Korean population. However there there remaine a number of problems to be solved. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the differences in health care utilization between Medical Aid beneficiaries and Health Insurance beneficiaries. Methods & Design Data were collected from the Korean Welfare Panel Study from 2008 to 2012 using propensity score matching. Of the 2,316 research subjects, 579 had Medical Aid and 1,737 had health insurance. We also analyzed three dependent variables: days spent in the hospital, number of outpatient visits, and hospitalizations per year. Analysis of variance and longitudinal data analysis were used. Results The number of outpatient visits was 1.431 times higher (p<0.0001) in Medical Aid beneficiaries, the number of hospitalizations per year was 1.604 times higher (p<0.0001) in Medical Aid beneficiaries, and the number of days spent in the hospital per year was 1.282 times higher (p<0.268) for Medical Aid beneficiaries than in individuals with Health Insurance. Medical Aid patients had a 0.874 times lower frequency of having an unmet needs due to economic barrier (95% confidence interval: 0.662-1.156). Conclusions Health insurance coverage has an impact on health care utilization. More health care utilization among Medical Aid beneficiaries appears to have a high possibility of a moral hazard risk under the Health Insurance program. Therefore, the moral hazard for Medical Aid beneficiaries should be avoided.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0119939
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 27

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Kim et al.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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