Examining Contact with General Practitioners

Have the Determinants of Access Changed Over Time?

Prof. Mark W. Rosenberg (Queens University Kingston, Ontario)

NIRSA/NCG Conference Room, Iontas Building, North Campus, NUI Maynooth, Maynooth 14:30 :: 5th May 2011

Abstract: Countries in the developed world are struggling with year over year increases in total expenditures for health care services which are taking up an increasing percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). The most obvious way to slow growing costs is to encourage people to improve their health behaviours including seeing general practitioners on a regular basis to ensure early detection and treatment which will reduce the likelihood of the need for more expensive treatments later on if early detection does not take place. Paradoxically, across the developed world, there are people who do not contact a general practitioner (GP) on a regular basis. While the simple answer to this question is that the people who do not contact a GP are those who cannot pay the fees, this explanation appears to be deficient in countries like Canada where there is a universal, public health care system that provides 100 per cent coverage for GP services.

To set the context, we first, examine some of the OECD data on health expenditure and review the access to barriers to GP services. Second, using the public use micro-data files of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), through its four four cycles, we examine whether the percentage of Canadians who have not contacted a GP, the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics associated with not contacting a GP, and the reasons for not seeing a GP have changed over time. Based on the analysis, the public policy implications and the need to reduce barriers to access to basic medical care are discussed both for Canada and Ireland.

This research project was in collaboration with with Dr. Kathi Wilson (University of Toronto at Mississauga) and Ms. Lauren Gurland At Queen’s.

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