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Open Access Research

Redistributive effects of the National Health Insurance on physicians in Taiwan: a natural experiment time series study

Chiang-Hsing Yang1, Yu-Tung A Huang2 and Ya-Seng A Hsueh3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Care Management, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Department of Gerontological Care and Management, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan

3 Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Level 4, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, 3053 Victoria, Australia

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International Journal for Equity in Health 2013, 12:13  doi:10.1186/1475-9276-12-13

Published: 4 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Previous studies have evaluated the effects of various health manpower policies but did not include full consideration of the effect of universal health insurance on physician re-distribution. This study examines the effects of implementing National Health Insurance (NHI) on the problem of geographic mal-distribution of health providers in Taiwan.

Methods

Data on health providers and population between 1971 and 2001 are obtained from relevant governmental publications in Taiwan. Gini coefficients derived from the Lorenz curve are used under a spline regression model to examine the impact of the NHI on the geographic distribution of health providers.

Results

The geographic distribution equality of the three key health providers has improved significantly after the implementation of NHI program. After accounting for the influences of other confounding factors, Gini coefficients of the three key providers have a net reduction of 1.248% for dentists, 0.365% for western medicine physicians, and 0.311% for Chinese medicine physicians. Overall, the absolute values of the three key providers’ Gini coefficients also become close to one another.

Conclusions

This study found that NHI’s offering universal health coverage to all citizens and with proper financial incentives have resulted in more equal geographic distributions among the key health care providers in Taiwan.