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New TILDA Research Brief - GP Utilisation in the Over 50s

Research led by Dr Anne Nolan of TILDA shows that public healthcare entitlements are an important determinant of GP visiting patterns among the over 50s.

A new Research Brief released by TILDA today (23rd December 2014) summarises the findings from a paper recently published in the Journal of the Economics of Ageing. The research examined the impact of having a medical or GP visit card, as well as private health insurance, on GP visiting rates among the over 50s. The results show that, in comparison with those with ‘no cover’ for GP expenses (i.e., without a medical card or private health insurance):

  • medical/GP cardholders had an extra 1.5 GP visits per annum;
  • those with ‘dual cover’ (i.e., with both a medical/GP card and private health insurance) had approximately 1.6 extra GP visits per annum;
  • those with private health insurance were found to have 0.5 extra GP visits per annum.

Importantly, these effects take into account other differences in characteristics between the various entitlement groups that might explain their greater need for healthcare (e.g., age, health status, etc.).

These results clearly demonstrate that the current structure of healthcare entitlements in the Irish system impacts on use of GP services, even after controlling for health need. This analysis is particularly timely given the commitments in relation to free GP care that are contained in the current Programme for Government. In this context, analyses such as this one of the response to differential prices of care can inform policymakers in making decisions around adjusting healthcare entitlements in the Irish healthcare system.

Link: Research Brief