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1.  Payments and quality of care in private for-profit and public hospitals in Greece 
Background
Empirical evidence on how ownership type affects the quality and cost of medical care is growing, and debate on these topics is ongoing. Despite the fact that the private sector is a major provider of hospital services in Greece, little comparative information on private versus public sector hospitals is available. The aim of the present study was to describe and compare the operation and performance of private for-profit (PFP) and public hospitals in Greece, focusing on differences in nurse staffing rates, average lengths of stay (ALoS), and Social Health Insurance (SHI) payments for hospital care per patient discharged.
Methods
Five different datasets were prepared and analyzed, two of which were derived from information provided by the National Statistical Service (NSS) of Greece and the other three from data held by the three largest SHI schemes in the country. All data referred to the 3-year period from 2001 to 2003.
Results
PFP hospitals in Greece are smaller than public hospitals, with lower patient occupancy, and have lower staffing rates of all types of nurses and highly qualified nurses compared with public hospitals. Calculation of ALoS using NSS data yielded mixed results, whereas calculations of ALoS and SHI payments using SHI data gave results clearly favoring the public hospital sector in terms of cost-efficiency; in all years examined, over all specialties and all SHI schemes included in our study, unweighted ALoS and SHI payments for hospital care per discharge were higher for PFP facilities.
Conclusions
In a mixed healthcare system, such as that in Greece, significant performance differences were observed between PFP and public hospitals. Close monitoring of healthcare provision by hospital ownership type will be essential to permit evidence-based decisions on the future of the public/private mix in terms of healthcare provision.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-234
PMCID: PMC3199237  PMID: 21943020
2.  Effect of private insurance incentive policy reforms on trends in coronary revascularisation procedures in the private and public health sectors in Western Australia: a cohort study 
Background
The Australian federal government introduced private health insurance incentive policy reforms in 2000 that increased the uptake of private health insurance in Australia. There is currently a lack of evidence on the effect of the policy reforms on access to cardiovascular interventions in public and private hospitals in Australia. The aim was to investigate whether the increased private health insurance uptake influenced trends in emergency and elective coronary artery revascularisation procedures (CARPs) for private and public patients.
Methods
We included 34,423 incident CARPs from Western Australia during 1995-2008 in this study. Rates of emergency and elective CARPs were stratified for publicly and privately funded patients. The average annual percent change (AAPC) in trend was calculated before and after 2000 using joinpoint regression.
Results
The rate of emergency CARPs, which were predominantly percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) with stenting, increased throughout the study period for both public and private patients (AAPC=12.9%, 95% CI=5.0,22.0 and 14.1%, 95% CI=9.8,18.6, respectively) with no significant difference in trends before and after policy implementation. The rate of elective PCIs with stenting from 2000 onwards remained relatively stable for public patients (AAPC=−6.0, 95% C= −16.9,6.4), but increased by 4.1% on average annually (95% CI=1.8,6.3) for private patients (pdifference=0.04 between groups). This rate increase for private patients was only seen in people aged over 65 years and people residing in high socioeconomic areas.
Conclusions
The private health insurance incentive policy reforms are a likely contributing factor in the shift in 2000 from public to privately-funded elective PCIs with stenting. These reforms as well as the increasing number of private hospitals may have been successful in increasing the availability of publicly-funded beds since 2000.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-280
PMCID: PMC3729369  PMID: 23870450
Health insurance; Coronary artery disease; Revascularisation procedures; Health policy
3.  Risk of Losing Insurance During the Transition into Adulthood Among Insured Youth with Disabilities 
To compare insured youth (age 15–25 years) with and without disabilities on risk of insurance loss. We conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation 2001. Descriptive statistics characterized insured youth who maintained and lost insurance for at least 3 months over a 3-year time frame. We conducted logistic regression to calculate the association between disability and insurance loss. Adjustment variables were gender, race, ethnicity, age, work or school status, poverty status, type of insurance at study onset, state generosity, and an interaction between disability and insurance type. This study includes 2,123 insured youth without disabilities, 320 insured youth with non-severe disabilities, and 295 insured youth with severe disabilities. Thirty-six percent of insured youth without disabilities lost insurance compared to 43% of insured youth with non-severe disabilities and 41% of insured youth with severe disabilities (P = .07). Youth with non-severe disabilities on public insurance have an estimated 61% lower odds of losing insurance (OR: 0.39; 95% CI: 0.16, 0.93; P = .03) compared to youth without disabilities on public insurance. Further, youth with severe disabilities on public insurance have an estimated 81% lower odds of losing insurance (OR: 0.19; 95% CI: 0.09, 0.40; P < .001) compared to youth without disabilities. When examining youth with private insurance, we find that youth with severe disabilities have 1.63 times higher odds (OR: 1.63; 95% CI: 1.03, 2.57; P = .04) of losing health insurance compared to youth without disabilities. Insurance type interacts with disability severity to affect odds of insurance loss among insured youth.
doi:10.1007/s10995-009-0470-5
PMCID: PMC3115452  PMID: 19517074
Disability; Youth with special health care needs; Insurance; Transition; Adolescent health
4.  The Australian Baby Bonus Maternity Payment and Birth Characteristics in Western Australia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48885.
Background
The Australian baby bonus maternity payment introduced in 2004 has been reported to have successfully increased fertility rates in Australia. We aimed to investigate the influence of the baby bonus on maternal demographics and birth characteristics in Western Australia (WA).
Methods and Findings
This study included 200,659 birth admissions from WA during 2001–2008, identified from administrative birth and hospital data-systems held by the WA Department of Health. We estimated average quarterly birth rates after the baby bonus introduction and compared them with expected rates had the policy not occurred. Rate and percentage differences (including 95% confidence intervals) were estimated separately by maternal demographics and birth characteristics. WA birth rates increased by 12.8% following the baby bonus implementation with the greatest increase being in mothers aged 20–24 years (26.3%, 95%CI = 22.0,30.6), mothers having their third (1.6%, 95%CI = 0.9,2.4) or fourth child (2.2%, 95%CI = 2.1,2.4), mothers living in outer regional and remote areas (32.4%, 95%CI = 30.2,34.6), mothers giving birth as public patients (1.5%, 95%CI = 1.3,1.8), and mothers giving birth in public hospitals (3.5%, 95%CI = 2.6,4.5). Interestingly, births to private patients (−4.3%, 95%CI = −4.8,−3.7) and births in private hospitals (−6.3%, 95%CI = −6.8,−5.8) decreased following the policy implementation.
Conclusions
The introduction of the baby bonus maternity payment may have served as an incentive for women in their early twenties and mothers having their third or fourth child and may have contributed to the ongoing pressure and staff shortages in Australian public hospitals, particularly those in outer regional and remote areas.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048885
PMCID: PMC3492246  PMID: 23145010
5.  Promoting universal financial protection: evidence from the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) in Gujarat, India 
Background
India’s health expenditure is met mostly by households through out-of-pocket (OOP) payments at the time of illness. To protect poor families, the Indian government launched a national health insurance scheme (RSBY). Those below the national poverty line (BPL) are eligible to join the RSBY. The premium is heavily subsidised by the government. The enrolled members receive a card and can avail of free hospitalisation care up to a maximum of US$ 600 per family per year. The hospitals are reimbursed by the insurance companies. The objective of our study was to analyse the extent to which RSBY contributes to universal health coverage by protecting families from making OOP payments.
Methods
A two-stage stratified sampling technique was used to identify eligible BPL families in Patan district of Gujarat, India. Initially, all 517 villages were listed and 78 were selected randomly. From each of these villages, 40 BPL households were randomly selected and a structured questionnaire was administered. Interviews and discussions were also conducted among key stakeholders.
Results
Our sample contained 2,920 households who had enrolled in the RSBY; most were from the poorer sections of society. The average hospital admission rate for the period 2010–2011 was 40/1,000 enrolled. Women, elderly and those belonging to the lowest caste had a higher hospitalisation rate. Forty four per cent of patients who had enrolled in RSBY and had used the RSBY card still faced OOP payments at the time of hospitalisation. The median OOP payment for the above patients was US$ 80 (interquartile range, $16–$200) and was similar in both government and private hospitals. Patients incurred OOP payments mainly because they were asked to purchase medicines and diagnostics, though the same were included in the benefit package.
Conclusions
While the RSBY has managed to include the poor under its umbrella, it has provided only partial financial coverage. Nearly 60% of insured and admitted patients made OOP payments. We plea for better monitoring of the scheme and speculate that it is possible to enhance effective financial coverage of the RSBY if the nodal agency at state level would strengthen its stewardship and oversight functions.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-11-29
PMCID: PMC3751687  PMID: 23961956
Financial protection; Health insurance; India; National health insurance scheme; Out-of-pocket payments; RSBY; Universal health coverage
6.  The economic impact of ventriculoperitoneal shunt failure 
Object
Detailed costs to individuals with hydrocephalus and their families as well as to third-party payers have not been previously described. The purpose of this study was to determine the primary caregiver out-of-pocket expenses and the third-party payer reimbursement rate associated with a shunt failure episode.
Methods
A retrospective study of children born between 2000 and 2005 who underwent initial ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placement and who subsequently experienced a shunt failure requiring surgical intervention within 2 years of their initial shunt placement was conducted. Institutional reimbursement and demographic data from Children’s Hospital of Alabama (CHA) were augmented with a caregiver survey of any out-of pocket expenses encountered during the shunt failure episode. Institutional reimbursements and caregiver out-of-pocket expenses were then combined to provide the cost for a shunt failure episode at CHA.
Results
For shunt failures, the median reimbursement total was $5008 (interquartile range [IQR] $2068–$17,984), the median caregiver out-of-pocket expenses was $419 (IQR $251–$1112), and the median total cost was $5411 (IQR $2428–$18,582). Private insurance reimbursed at a median rate of $5074 (IQR $2170–$14,852) compared with public insurance, which reimbursed at a median rate of $4800 (IQR $1876–$19,395). Caregivers with private insurance reported a median $963 (IQR $322–$1741) for out-of-pocket expenses, whereas caregivers with public insurance reported a median $391 (IQR $241–$554) for out-of-pocket expenses (p = 0.017).
Conclusions
This study confirmed that private insurance reimbursed at a higher rate, and that although patients had a shorter length of stay as compared with those with public insurance, their out-of-pocket expenses associated with a shunt failure episode were greater. However, it could not be determined if the significant difference in out-of-pocket expenses between those with private and those with public insurance was due directly to the cost of shunt failure. This model does not take into consideration community resources and services available to those with public insurance. These resources and services could offset the out-of-pocket burden, and therefore should be considered in future cost models.
doi:10.3171/2011.9.PEDS11192
PMCID: PMC3254583  PMID: 22132918
cost analysis; pediatric hydrocephalus; ventriculoperitoneal shunt
7.  A model to explain specific cellular communications and cellular harmony:- a hypothesis of coupled cells and interactive coupling molecules 
Background
The various cell types and their relative numbers in multicellular organisms are controlled by growth factors and related extracellular molecules which affect genetic expression pathways. However, these substances may have both/either inhibitory and/or stimulatory effects on cell division and cell differentiation depending on the cellular environment. It is not known how cells respond to these substances in such an ambiguous way. Many cellular effects have been investigated and reported using cell culture from cancer cell lines in an effort to define normal cellular behaviour using these abnormal cells.
A model is offered to explain the harmony of cellular life in multicellular organisms involving interacting extracellular substances.
Methods
A basic model was proposed based on asymmetric cell division and evidence to support the hypothetical model was accumulated from the literature. In particular, relevant evidence was selected for the Insulin-Like Growth Factor system from the published data, especially from certain cell lines, to support the model. The evidence has been selective in an attempt to provide a picture of normal cellular responses, derived from the cell lines.
Results
The formation of a pair of coupled cells by asymmetric cell division is an integral part of the model as is the interaction of couplet molecules derived from these cells. Each couplet cell will have a receptor to measure the amount of the couplet molecule produced by the other cell; each cell will be receptor-positive or receptor-negative for the respective receptors. The couplet molecules will form a binary complex whose level is also measured by the cell. The hypothesis is heavily supported by selective collection of circumstantial evidence and by some direct evidence. The basic model can be expanded to other cellular interactions.
Conclusions
These couplet cells and interacting couplet molecules can be viewed as a mechanism that provides a controlled and balanced division-of-labour between the two progeny cells, and, in turn, their progeny. The presence or absence of a particular receptor for a couplet molecule will define a cell type and the presence or absence of many such receptors will define the cell types of the progeny within cell lineages.
doi:10.1186/1742-4682-11-40
PMCID: PMC4237941  PMID: 25218581
8.  Uninsured Children and Adolescents with Insured Parents 
Context
Millions of US children lack health insurance coverage. Efforts to expand children’s insurance often focus on extending public coverage to uninsured parents. Less is known about the uninsured children whose parents already have coverage.
Objective
To identify predictors of uninsurance among US children with insured parents.
Design/Setting
Cross-sectional and full-year analyses of pooled 2002-2005 data from the nationally-representative Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).
Participants
All children under age 19 in four yearly MEPS files with positive full-year weights who had at least one parent residing in the same household (unweighted total number = 39,710).
Main Outcome Measure
Cross-sectional and full-year uninsurance among children with at least one insured parent.
Results
Cross-sectionally, over 3.3 percent of US children were uninsured with at least one insured parent (unweighted total number = 1,380, weighted average yearly population of approximately 2.3 million children). In multivariable analyses, children experiencing this discordant pattern of family coverage were more likely Hispanic (odds ratio [OR] 1.58; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.23 to 2.03) compared to white, non-Hispanic; low and middle income (OR 2.02; 95% CI, 1.42 to 2.88; and OR 1.48; 95% CI, 1.09 to 2.03, respectively) compared to high income; from single-parent homes (OR 1.99; 95% CI 1.59 to 2.49) compared to children living with two married parents; and living with parents who had less than a high school education (OR 1.44; 95% CI 1.10 to 1.89) compared to those with at least one parent who had completed high school. Children whose parents had public coverage were less likely to be uninsured (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.43 to 0.96) compared to those whose parents reported private health insurance. These predictors remained significant in full-year analyses. Similar patterns of vulnerability were also found among a subset of uninsured children with privately-covered parents.
Conclusions
Predictors of uninsurance among children with at least one insured parent included: having low and middle household incomes, being of Hispanic origin, having parents who did not complete high school, and living in a single-parent household. Having a parent covered by only public insurance was associated with better children’s coverage rates.
doi:10.1001/jama.2008.516
PMCID: PMC3116514  PMID: 18940977
health insurance; discontinuous health insurance coverage; access to healthcare; SCHIP; child health; health policy
9.  Survey of social health insurance structure in selected countries; providing framework for basic health insurance in Iran 
Introduction and Objectives:
Health system reforms are the most strategic issue that has been seriously considered in healthcare systems in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency and effectiveness. The costs of health system finance in our country, lack of universal coverage in health insurance, and related issues necessitate reforms in our health system financing. The aim of this research was to prepare a structure of framework for social health insurance in Iran and conducting a comparative study in selected countries with social health insurance.
Materials and Methods:
This comparative descriptive study was conducted in three phases. The first phase of the study examined the structure of health social insurance in four countries – Germany, South Korea, Egypt, and Australia. The second phase was to develop an initial model, which was designed to determine the shared and distinguishing points of the investigated structures, for health insurance in Iran. The third phase was to validate the final research model. The developed model by the Delphi method was given to 20 professionals in financing of the health system, health economics and management of healthcare services. Their comments were collected in two stages and its validity was confirmed.
Findings:
The study of the structure of health insurance in the selected countries shows that health social insurance in different countries have different structures. Based on the findings of the present study, the current situation of the health system, and the conducted surveys, the following framework is suitable for the health social insurance system in Iran. The Health Social Insurance Organization has a unique service by having five funds of governmental employees, companies and NGOs, self-insured, villagers, and others, which serves as a nongovernmental organization under the supervision of public law and by decision- and policy-making of the Health Insurance Supreme Council. Membership in this organization is based on the nationality or residence, which the insured by paying the insurance premiums within 6-10% of their income and employment status, are entitled to use the services. Providing services to the insured are performed by indirect forms. Payments to the service providers for the fee of inpatient and outpatient services are conservative and the related diagnostic groups system.
Conclusions:
Paying attention to the importance of modification of the fragmented health insurance system and financing the country's healthcare can reduce much of the failure of the health system, including the access of the public to health services. The countries according to the degree of development, governmental, and private insurance companies and existing rules must use the appropriate structure, comprehensive approach to the structure, and financing of the health social insurance on the investigated basis and careful attention to the intersections and differentiation. Studied structures, using them in the proposed approach and taking advantages of the perspectives of different beneficiaries about discussed topics can be important and efficient in order to achieve the goals of the health social insurance.
doi:10.4103/2277-9531.145919
PMCID: PMC4275610  PMID: 25540789
Health insurance; health insurance structure; insurance; selected countries
10.  Outcome of newborns with asymptomatic monomorphic ventricular arrhythmia 
Background
Frequent premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), couplets (CPLTs) and episodes of ventricular tachycardia are extremely rare in the neonatal population. Limited information is available with regard to clinical relevance and outcome.
Objectives
To evaluate the clinical characteristics and outcomes of a group of newborns with ventricular arrhythmias without heart disease.
Patients and design
Between January 2000 and January 2003, 16 newborns with ventricular arrhythmias in the absence of heart disease were studied. The newborns were divided into three groups: PVC group (n = 8), CPLT group (n = 4) and ventricular tachycardia group (n = 4). All patients underwent physical examination, electrocardiography, Holter monitoring and echocardiography at diagnosis and at follow‐up (1, 3, 6 and 12 months, and yearly thereafter).
Results
Mean (standard deviation, SD) age of the patients was 3 (1.19) days in the PVC group, 3.25 (0.95) days in the CPLT group and 6.5 (9.1) days in the ventricular tachycardia group. Median follow‐up was 36 months (range 24–48 months). PVCs disappeared during follow‐up in all the neonates, in the PVC group, at a mean (SD) age of 2.1 (1.24) months; in the CPLT group, couplets disappeared at a mean (SD) age of 6.5 (1) months. All patients with ventricular tachycardia were treated; ventricular tachycardia disappeared at a mean (SD) age of 1.7 (0.9) months. Neither death nor complications occurred.
Conclusions
Ventricular arrhythmias in newborns without heart disease have a good long‐term prognosis. Frequent PVCs and CPLTs do not require treatment. Sustained ventricular tachycardia or high‐rate ventricular tachycardia must be treated, but the prognosis is generally favourable.
doi:10.1136/adc.2005.092932
PMCID: PMC2672755  PMID: 16820390
11.  Clinical Evaluation of a Mobile Heart Rhythm Telemonitoring System 
ISRN Cardiology  2012;2012:192670.
Purpose. To evaluate the clinical applicability of a telemonitoring system: telemetric system for collection and distant surveillance of medical information (TEMEO). Methods. We evaluated 60 patients, applying simultaneously standard Holter ECG and telemonitoring. Two different comparisons were performed: (1) TEMEO ECG with standard 12-lead ECG; (2) TEMEO Holter with standard ECG Holter. Results. We found a very high coincidence rate (99.3%) between TEMEO derived ECGs and standard ECGs. Intraclass correlation coefficient analysis revealed high and significant correlation coefficients regarding average, maximal, and minimal heart rate, % of time in tachycardia, single supraventricular ectopic beats (SVEB), and single and couplets of ventricular ectopic beats (VEB) between Holter ECG and TEMEO derived parameters. Couplets of SVEB were recorded as different by the two monitoring systems, however, with a borderline statistical significance. Conclusions. TEMEO derived ECGs have a very high coincidence rate with standard ECGs. TEMEO patient monitoring provides results that are similar to those derived from a standard Holter ECG.
doi:10.5402/2012/192670
PMCID: PMC3477669  PMID: 23097720
12.  Disparities in Asthma Medication Dispensing Patterns: The Case of Pediatric Asthma in Puerto Rico 
Background
Disparities exist in asthma medication dispensing between children with public insurance and those with private insurance under a Managed Care Medicaid system in Puerto Rico.
Objectives
Island-wide medical claims data were used to examine the extent to which differences between the private and public health care sectors affect medication dispensing and health care utilization among asthmatic children.
Methods
Children 3–18 years old with at least one service claim (outpatient, hospitalization, or ED visit) for asthma or reactive airway disease from 2005–06 were selected. Chi-square analyses compared medication dispensing and health care utilization between the public and private sectors. Negative binomial regression identified factors associated with the mean dispensing rate of prescriptions for controller anti-inflammatory medication (CM).
Results
Private insurance families (n= 28,088) were dispensed significantly more CM (48.3% vs. 12.0%) and quick relief medication (47.4% vs. 44.6%) than public insurance families (n=13,220). The dispensing of inhaled corticosteroids (24.4% vs. 6.7%) and leukotriene modifiers and cromolyn (31.4% vs. 5.7%) was dramatically higher in the private sector. In contrast, ER use was significantly higher among public insurance children (51.7% vs. 13.8%). Multivariate analysis showed that age, number of beta-agonists, and type of insurance was associated with CM dispensing; private insurance showed the greatest effect.
Conclusion
Asthmatic Puerto Rican children enrolled in public insurance were significantly less likely to be dispensed CM than children with private insurance; suggesting that under- treatment of public insured children may substantially contribute to increased asthma morbidity in this population as evidenced by significantly higher rates of ED visits.
doi:10.3109/02770903.2010.517338
PMCID: PMC3119502  PMID: 21039213
Asthma; disparities in medication dispensing; Puerto Rico; children; health care system
13.  Income-Based Drug Coverage in British Columbia: The Impact on the Distribution of Financial Burden 
Healthcare Policy  2006;2(2):e170-e186.
Background and Objectives:
In May 2003, the government of British Columbia adopted an income-based pharmacare program, replacing the previous age-based program. Stated policy goals included improving the distribution of pharmaceutical payments across incomes. This analysis assesses the policy’s effect on the distribution across incomes of both private payments and public subsidy for prescription drugs.
Methods:
This analysis focuses on how the 2003 policy change affected the extent to which higher-income households pay a larger share of private drug expenditures and/or receive a smaller share of available public subsidies. Demographic information and drug spending data were extracted from BC PharmaNet and the BC PharmaCare Program for the years 2001–2004. These data were then graphed to assess (using concentration curves) changes in the progressivity of private and public pharmaceutical financing.
Results:
Overall, the move to Fair PharmaCare resulted in larger but slightly less regressive private payments and smaller but slightly more progressive public subsidies. Because total drug spending increased while the total subsidy available decreased, average private household spending as a proportion of household income increased across virtually all age and income levels.
Discussion:
The PharmaCare Program redistributed public subsidies in a manner that was more progressive than previous programs; this reduced the regressivity of private pharmaceutical payments. However, total public subsidy decreased, and private spending increased by a commensurate amount. This makes the program’s overall financial impact on BC households somewhat ambiguous. Income-based pharmacare could improve financial equity unambiguously if public shares of drug spending are expanded.
PMCID: PMC2585442  PMID: 19305698
14.  Development of a health care policy characterisation model based on use of private health insurance 
Objective
The aim of this study was to develop a policy characterisation process based on measuring shifts in use of private health insurance (PHI) immediately following implementation of changes in federal health care policy.
Method
Population-based hospital morbidity data from 1980 to 2001 were used to produce trend lines in the annual proportions of public, privately insured and privately uninsured hospital separations in age-stratified subgroups. A policy characterisation model was developed using visual and statistical assessment of the trend lines associated with changes in federal health care policy.
Results
Of eight changes in federal health care policy, two (introduction of Medicare and Lifetime Health Cover) were directly associated with major changes in the trend lines; however, minor changes in trends were associated with several of the other federal policies. Three types of policy effects were characterised by our model: direction change, magnitude change and inhibition. Results from our model suggest that a policy of Lifetime Health Cover, with a sanction for late adoption of PHI, was immediately successful in changing the private: public mix. The desired effect of the 30% rebate was immediate only in the oldest age group (70+ years), however, introduction of the lifetime health cover and limitations in the model restricted the ability to determine whether or if the rebate had a delayed effect at younger ages.
Conclusion
An outcome-based policy characterisation model is useful in evaluating immediate effects of changes in health care policy.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-2-27
PMCID: PMC1312311  PMID: 16274489
15.  A preliminary analysis of the effect of the new rural cooperative medical scheme on inpatient care at a county hospital 
Background
China in 2009 committed to reach universal health coverage by promoting three forms of health insurance; NCMS for the rural population, UEBMI for formally employed urban residents and URBMI for other urban residents. NCMS has expanded to near universal coverage in rural China since launching in 2003. The objective of this study aimed to assess the effect of NCMS on inpatient care utilization from 2003 to 2012 at Longyou county hospital, Zhejiang province.
Methods
The research was conducted at Longyou county, Zhejiang province. All registered inpatient admissions from January 1, 2003, to June 30, 2012, were included in the study. The PLSQL Developer software was used to select the interesting variables in the hospital information database and saved in an Excel 2003 file. The interesting variables included the patients’ general information (name, gender, age, payment method), discharge diagnosis, length of hospital stay, and expenditure (total expenditure and out-of-pocket payment). Two common diseases (coronary arteriosclerotic disease and pneumonia) were selected as tracer conditions.
Results
292,400 rural residents were enrolled in the Longyou county NCMS by 2011, 95.4% of the eligible population. A total of 145,744 inpatient admissions were registered from 1 January 2003 to 30 June 2012. The proportion of inpatients covered by NCMS increased from 30.3% in 2004 to 54.2% in 2012 while the proportion of inpatients covered by UEBMI increased from 7.7% in 2003 to 14.7% in 2012. The average expenditure for UEBMI insured inpatients was higher than the average for NCMS insured inpatients, although the gap was narrowing. The average length of hospital stay increased every year for all inpatients, but was higher for UEBMI inpatients than for NCMS insured inpatients. For both tracer conditions the results were similar to the above findings.
Conclusions
NCMS has improved coverage height for its enrollees and resulted in increased cost of care per inpatient admission at the county hospital. However, wide differences persist between the two insurance systems in coverage height. Both systems are associated with increasing lengths of stay and rising cost per inpatient admission. We found that around 30% of inpatients were not covered by any of the two public health insurance systems, which calls for further studies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-519
PMCID: PMC3867426  PMID: 24344831
Health insurance; NCMS; Inpatient; Hospital; Universal health coverage; China; Equity; Length of hospital stay; Cost; Access; Utilization
16.  People's willingness to pay for health insurance in rural Vietnam 
Background
The inequity caused by health financing in Vietnam, which mainly relies on out-of-pocket payments, has put pre-payment reform high on the political agenda. This paper reports on a study of the willingness to pay for health insurance among a rural population in northern Vietnam, exploring whether the Vietnamese are willing to pay enough to sufficiently finance a health insurance system.
Methods
Using the Epidemiological Field Laboratory for Health Systems Research in the Bavi district (FilaBavi), 2070 households were randomly selected for the study. Existing FilaBavi interviewers were trained especially for this study. The interview questionnaire was developed through a pilot study followed by focus group discussions among interviewers. Determinants of households' willingness to pay were studied through interval regression by which problems such as zero answers, skewness, outliers and the heaping effect may be solved.
Results
Households' average willingness to pay (WTP) is higher than their costs for public health care and self-treatment. For 70–80% of the respondents, average WTP is also sufficient to pay the lower range of premiums in existing health insurance programmes. However, the average WTP would only be sufficient to finance about half of total household public, as well as private, health care costs. Variables that reflect income, health care need, age and educational level were significant determinants of households' willingness to pay. Contrary to expectations, age was negatively related to willingness to pay.
Conclusion
Since WTP is sufficient to cover household costs for public health care, it depends to what extent households would substitute private for public care and increase utilization as to whether WTP would also be sufficient enough to finance health insurance. This study highlights potential for public information schemes that may change the negative attitude towards health insurance, which this study has uncovered. A key task for policy makers is to win the trust of the population in relation to a health insurance system, particularly among the old and those with relatively low education.
doi:10.1186/1478-7547-6-16
PMCID: PMC2527552  PMID: 18691440
17.  Quality of Private and Public Ambulatory Health Care in Low and Middle Income Countries: Systematic Review of Comparative Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1000433.
Paul Garner and colleagues conducted a systematic review of 80 studies to compare the quality of private versus public ambulatory health care in low- and middle-income countries.
Background
In developing countries, the private sector provides a substantial proportion of primary health care to low income groups for communicable and non-communicable diseases. These providers are therefore central to improving health outcomes. We need to know how their services compare to those of the public sector to inform policy options.
Methods and Findings
We summarised reliable research comparing the quality of formal private versus public ambulatory health care in low and middle income countries. We selected studies against inclusion criteria following a comprehensive search, yielding 80 studies. We compared quality under standard categories, converted values to a linear 100% scale, calculated differences between providers within studies, and summarised median values of the differences across studies. As the results for for-profit and not-for-profit providers were similar, we combined them. Overall, median values indicated that many services, irrespective of whether public or private, scored low on infrastructure, clinical competence, and practice. Overall, the private sector performed better in relation to drug supply, responsiveness, and effort. No difference between provider groups was detected for patient satisfaction or competence. Synthesis of qualitative components indicates the private sector is more client centred.
Conclusions
Although data are limited, quality in both provider groups seems poor, with the private sector performing better in drug availability and aspects of delivery of care, including responsiveness and effort, and possibly being more client orientated. Strategies seeking to influence quality in both groups are needed to improve care delivery and outcomes for the poor, including managing the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The provision of private (“for-profit” hospitals and self-employed practitioners, and “not-for-profit” non-government providers, including faith-based organizations) versus public health care services in low and middle income countries raises considerable ideological debate. Ideological arguments aside—which can be very passionate on both sides—there is general agreement that improving the quality of both public and private health care could have a major impact on improved health outcomes, especially as the private sector is so widely used in low and middle income countries. For example, almost three quarters and half of children from the poorest households of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, respectively, seek health care from a private provider when they are ill. Private providers are also increasingly responsible for outpatient care for non-communicable diseases.
As a result of the mixed health care system in many low and middle income countries, adequate oversight and stewardship of the mixed system from the national government is essential yet often missing.
Why Was This Study Done?
An understanding of how quality and performance in the private sector compares with that in the public sector would help governments to prioritize where they need to concentrate their efforts. So, for example, if the private sector is generally providing poorer quality care than the public sector, then there is an imperative to improve the quality and outcomes; on the other hand, if the quality of care offered by the private sector is good, the policy priority is to influence the market to further improve access to such health care for low income groups.
In order to help with this comparison, the researchers wanted to systematically identify and summarize the results of studies that directly compared the quality of care offered by public providers with the one offered by “formal” private providers (recognized by law) and “informal” private providers (providers that are not legally recognized, such as lay health workers and shop keepers). For the purposes of this study the researchers focused their comparison on the private and public provision of outpatient care in low and middle income countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In their literature review, the researchers searched for relevant studies reported in English, French, or German and published between January 1970 and April 2009. Only studies that compared private and public outpatient medical services in the same country, at the same time, using the same methods, and which met particular quality criteria, were included in the analysis. The researchers also had strict criteria for including qualitative studies, and they retrieved the full text of articles, contacted study authors where appropriate, and verified with a second researcher most (80%) of the extracted study data. In order to evaluate and compare the studies, the researchers converted study values to a linear 100% scale, calculated differences between providers within studies, and summarized the median values of the differences across studies.
The researchers identified a total of 8,812 relevant titles and abstracts and found 80 studies that included direct quantitative comparisons of public and private formal providers. Ten studies included qualitative data. Most studies were conducted after 1990, and mainly in sub-Saharan Africa (n = 39) and Asia and the Pacific (n = 23). Most studies did not report socio-economic status of public and private service users, and only five studies presented data by different income groups. No study compared the same individual providers working in public and private care settings. Only two studies compared public providers and private informal providers, so the authors excluded these from subsequent analysis.
For the formal sector, since the results for “for-profit” and “not-for-profit” providers were similar, the researchers decided to combine the results. Overall, the researchers found that the median values indicated that many services, irrespective of whether public or private, scored low (less than 50%) on infrastructure, clinical competence, and practice. Generally, the private sector performed better in relation to drug supply, responsiveness, and effort, but there was no detectable difference between provider groups for patient satisfaction. Furthermore, a synthesis of qualitative data suggested that the private sector may be more client-centered.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Based on the findings of this review, there is a clear need to consider the quality of primary health services in both the public and private sector in order to improve health outcomes in low and middle income countries. These findings also indicate that, for some aspects of care, on average the private sector provided better quality services. The overall low quality of care in both the formal private and public sector found in this review is worrying, and calls for the governments of low and middle income countries to find and implement effective strategies to improve the quality in both sectors. This is particularly important given the increasing volume of conditions that require relatively sophisticated, long-term ambulatory medical care, such as non-communicable diseases.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000433.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Jishnu Das
WHO has more information on health service delivery in low- and middle-income countries
WHO has more information on noncommunicable diseases
The World Bank's World Development Report for 2004 addresses health care for poor people
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000433
PMCID: PMC3075233  PMID: 21532746
18.  The Association Between Insurance Status and Emergency Department Disposition of Injured California Children 
Objectives
This study examined the relationship between insurance status and emergency department (ED) disposition of injured California children.
Methods
Multivariate regression models were built using data obtained from the 2005 through 2009 California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) datasets for all ED visits by injured children younger than 19 years of age.
Results
Of 3,519,530 injury-related ED visits, 52% were insured by private, and 36% were insured by public insurance, while 11% of visits were not insured. After adjustment for injury characteristics and demographic variables, publicly insured children had a higher likelihood of admission for mild, moderate, and severe injuries compared to privately insured children (mild injury adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.36; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.34 to 1.39; moderate and severe injury AOR = 1.34; 95% CI = 1.28 to 1.41). However, uninsured children were less likely to be admitted for mild, moderate, and severe injuries compared to privately insured children (mild injury: AOR = 0.63; 95% CI = 0.61 to 0.66; moderate and severe injury: AOR = 0.50; 95% CI = 0.46 to 0.55). While publicly insured children with moderate and severe injuries were as likely as privately insured children to experience an ED death (AOR = 0.91; 95% CI = 0.70 to 1.18), uninsured children with moderate and severe injuries were more likely to die in the ED compared to privately insured children (AOR = 3.11; 95% CI = 2.38 to 4.06).
Conclusions
Privately insured, publicly insured, and uninsured injured children have disparate patterns of ED disposition. Policy and clinical efforts are needed to ensure that all injured children receive equitable emergency care.
doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.2012.01356.x
PMCID: PMC3443629  PMID: 22594358
19.  Medicaid and Preterm Births in Virginia: An Analysis of Recent Outcomes 
Journal of Women's Health  2010;19(11):1969-1975.
Abstract
Objectives
The study objectives were to evaluate adequacy of prenatal care and risk for preterm birth among Medicaid clients in Virginia and to determine if payment method is associated with the risk of preterm birth.
Methods
Birth certificate data for the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2007 and 2008 were linked with Medicaid claims data. Analysis was limited to singleton births. Three payment methods were evaluated: private insurance, self-pay, and Medicaid. The prevalence of preterm birth for each level of prenatal care defined by the Kotelchuck prenatal care index was assessed for each payment method. Unconditional logistic regression modeling was used to assess the association between payment method and preterm birth risk while controlling for known preterm birth risk factors.
Results
Preterm birth prevalences (95% confidence interval [CI]) for the different payment methods were 7.9% (4.79-8.07) for the privately insured, 10.1% (9.57-10.60) for the self-pay group, and 10.2% (9.95-10.45) for Medicaid recipients. Compared with those with private insurance, women on Medicaid had an adjusted odds ratio (OR) for preterm birth (95% CI) of 0.99 (0.94-1.03). Self-pay mothers had a 32% increase in the odds of preterm birth relative to the privately insured. All payment groups show a trend toward significant reduction in preterm birth prevalence as adequacy of prenatal care improved from inadequate to adequate. Medicaid enrollees had a high prevalence of known risk factors, including smoking and illicit drug use and cervical insufficiency.
Conclusions
When known risk factors have been controlled, preterm birth risk for Medicaid enrollees did not differ significantly from the privately insured.
doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.1955
PMCID: PMC2971635  PMID: 20831442
20.  Noninvasive Cardiac Activation Imaging of Ventricular Arrhythmias during Drug-induced QT Prolongation in the Rabbit Heart 
Background
Imaging myocardial activation from noninvasive body surface potentials promises to aid in both cardiovascular research and clinical medicine.
Objective
This study investigates the ability of a noninvasive 3-dimensional cardiac electrical imaging (3DCEI) technique for characterizing the activation patterns of dynamically changing ventricular arrhythmias during drug-induced QT prolongation in rabbit.
Methods
Simultaneous body surface potential mapping and 3-dimensional intra-cardiac mapping were performed in a closed-chest condition in eight rabbits. Data analysis was performed on premature ventricular complexes, couplets, and torsades de pointes (TdP) induced during i.v. administration of clofilium and phenylephrine with combinations of various infusion rates.
Results
The drug infusion led to significant increase of QT interval (175±7ms to 274±31ms) and rate-corrected QT interval (183±5ms to 262±21ms) during the first dose cycle. All the ectopic beats initiated by a focal activation pattern. The initial beat of TdPs arose at focal site, whereas the subsequent beats were due to focal activity from different sites or two competing focal sites. The imaged results captured the dynamic shift of activation patterns and were in good correlation with the simultaneous measurements with a correlation coefficient of 0.65±0.02 averaged over 111 ectopic beats. Sites of initial activation were localized to be ~5mm.
Conclusion
The 3DCEI technique could localize the origin of activation and image activation sequence of TdP during QT prolongation induced by clofilium and phenylephrine in rabbit. It offers the potential to non-invasively investigate the proarrhythmic effects of drug infusion and assess the mechanisms of arrhythmias on a beat-to-beat basis.
doi:10.1016/j.hrthm.2013.06.010
PMCID: PMC3787973  PMID: 23773986
cardiac imaging; electrocardiography; cardiac mapping; torsades de pointes; QT prolongation; rabbit model
21.  Health Insurance and Length of Stay for Children Hospitalized With Community-Acquired Pneumonia 
BACKGROUND
Disparities in patterns of care and outcomes for ambulatory-care sensitive childhood conditions such as community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) persist. However, the influence of insurance status on length of stay (LOS) for children hospitalized with CAP remains unexplored.
METHODS
Secondary analysis of children (<18 years) hospitalized with CAP sampled in the Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID) for years 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006. Insurance status (private, public, uninsured) was based on claims data. Hospital LOS was calculated in days. Taking into account the complex sampling design, negative binomial regression models produced adjusted estimates of incidence rate ratios (IRR) for hospital LOS for children by insurance status.
RESULTS
There was little variation in the categories of insurance status of children hospitalized with CAP between 1997 and 2006, with at least 40% privately insured, at least 40% publicly insured, and at least 5% uninsured in each sampled year. In all years, publicly insured children had a significantly longer hospital stay than privately insured children, and uninsured children had a significantly shorter hospital stay than privately insured children. These observed differences persisted after multivariate adjustment.
CONCLUSIONS
Differences in LOS between uninsured, publicly insured, and privately insured children with CAP raise concerns about potential differences in hospital discharge practices related to insurance status and type. As healthcare reform is implemented, policy makers should strengthen efforts to reduce these disparities in order to achieve health for the population.
doi:10.1002/jhm.959
PMCID: PMC3877930  PMID: 21972214
22.  Psychiatric inpatient expenditures and public health insurance programmes: analysis of a national database covering the entire South Korean population 
Background
Medical spending on psychiatric hospitalization has been reported to impose a tremendous socio-economic burden on many developed countries with public health insurance programmes. However, there has been no in-depth study of the factors affecting psychiatric inpatient medical expenditures and differentiated these factors across different types of public health insurance programmes. In view of this, this study attempted to explore factors affecting medical expenditures for psychiatric inpatients between two public health insurance programmes covering the entire South Korean population: National Health Insurance (NHI) and National Medical Care Aid (AID).
Methods
This retrospective, cross-sectional study used a nationwide, population-based reimbursement claims dataset consisting of 1,131,346 claims of all 160,465 citizens institutionalized due to psychiatric diagnosis between January 2005 and June 2006 in South Korea. To adjust for possible correlation of patients characteristics within the same medical institution and a non-linearity structure, a Box-Cox transformed, multilevel regression analysis was performed.
Results
Compared with inpatients 19 years old or younger, the medical expenditures of inpatients between 50 and 64 years old were 10% higher among NHI beneficiaries but 40% higher among AID beneficiaries. Males showed higher medical expenditures than did females. Expenditures on inpatients with schizophrenia as compared to expenditures on those with neurotic disorders were 120% higher among NHI beneficiaries but 83% higher among AID beneficiaries. Expenditures on inpatients of psychiatric hospitals were greater on average than expenditures on inpatients of general hospitals. Among AID beneficiaries, institutions owned by private groups treated inpatients with 32% higher costs than did government institutions. Among NHI beneficiaries, inpatients medical expenditures were positively associated with the proportion of patients diagnosed into dementia or schizophrenia categories. However, for AID beneficiaries, inpatient medical expenditures were positively associated with the proportion of all patients with a psychiatric diagnosis that were AID beneficiaries in a medical institution.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence that patient and institutional factors are associated with psychiatric inpatient medical expenditures, and that they may have different effects for beneficiaries of different public health insurance programmes. Policy efforts to reduce psychiatric inpatient medical expenditures should be made differently across the different types of public health insurance programmes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-263
PMCID: PMC2944271  PMID: 20819235
23.  Impact of Insurance Type on Survivor-Focused and General Preventive Health Care Utilization in Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer: The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) 
Cancer  2010;117(9):1966-1975.
Background
Lack of health insurance is a key barrier to accessing care for chronic conditions and cancer screening. We examined the influence of insurance type (private, public, none) on survivor-focused and general preventive health care in adult survivors of childhood cancer.
Methods
The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study is a retrospective cohort study of childhood cancer survivors diagnosed between 1970–1986. Among 8425 adult survivors, the Relative Risk (RR), 95% confidence interval (CI) of receiving survivor-focused and general preventive health care were estimated for uninsured (n=1390) and publicly insured (n=640), comparing to privately insured (n=6395).
Results
Uninsured survivors were less likely than privately insured to report a cancer-related (adjusted RR=0.83, 95% CI, 0.75–0.91) or a cancer center visit (adjusted RR=0.83, 95% CI, 0.71–0.98). Uninsured survivors had lower levels of utilization in all measures of care in comparison with privately insured. In contrast, publicly insured survivors were more likely to report a cancer-related (adjusted RR=1.22, 95% CI, 1.11–1.35) or a cancer center visit (adjusted RR=1.41, 95% CI, 1.18–1.70) than privately insured. While having a similar utilization level of general health examinations, publicly insured survivors were less likely to report Papanicolaou smear or dental examinations.
Conclusion
Among this large, socioeconomically diverse cohort, publicly insured survivors utilize survivor-focused health care at rates at least as high as survivors with private insurance. Uninsured survivors have lower utilization to both survivor-focused and general preventive health care.
doi:10.1002/cncr.25688
PMCID: PMC3433164  PMID: 21509774
Childhood Cancer Survivors; Health Insurance; Health Care Access; Survivorship; Delivery of Health Care
24.  Observational Cohort Study of Ventricular Arrhythmia in Adults with Marfan Syndrome Caused by FBN1 Mutations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81281.
Background
Marfan syndrome is associated with ventricular arrhythmia but risk factors including FBN1 mutation characteristics require elucidation.
Methods and Results
We performed an observational cohort study of 80 consecutive adults (30 men, 50 women aged 42±15 years) with Marfan syndrome caused by FBN1 mutations. We assessed ventricular arrhythmia on baseline ambulatory electrocardiography as >10 premature ventricular complexes per hour (>10 PVC/h), as ventricular couplets (Couplet), or as non-sustained ventricular tachycardia (nsVT), and during 31±18 months of follow-up as ventricular tachycardia (VT) events (VTE) such as sudden cardiac death (SCD), and sustained ventricular tachycardia (sVT). We identified >10 PVC/h in 28 (35%), Couplet/nsVT in 32 (40%), and VTE in 6 patients (8%), including 3 with SCD (4%). PVC>10/h, Couplet/nsVT, and VTE exhibited increased N-terminal pro–brain natriuretic peptide serum levels(P<.001). All arrhythmias related to increased NT-proBNP (P<.001), where PVC>10/h and Couplet/nsVT also related to increased indexed end-systolic LV diameters (P = .024 and P = .020), to moderate mitral valve regurgitation (P = .018 and P = .003), and to prolonged QTc intervals (P = .001 and P = .006), respectively. Moreover, VTE related to mutations in exons 24–32 (P = .021). Kaplan–Meier analysis corroborated an association of VTE with increased NT-proBNP (P<.001) and with mutations in exons 24–32 (P<.001).
Conclusions
Marfan syndrome with causative FBN1 mutations is associated with an increased risk for arrhythmia, and affected persons may require life-long monitoring. Ventricular arrhythmia on electrocardiography, signs of myocardial dysfunction and mutations in exons 24–32 may be risk factors of VTE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081281
PMCID: PMC3862481  PMID: 24349050
25.  Universal health care no guarantee of equity: Comparison of socioeconomic inequalities in the receipt of coronary procedures in patients with acute myocardial infarction and angina 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:460.
Background
In Australia there is a socioeconomic gradient in morbidity and mortality favouring socioeconomically advantaged people, much of which is accounted for by ischaemic heart disease. This study examines if Australia's universal health care system, with its mixed public/private funding and delivery model, may actually perpetuate this inequity. We do this by quantifying and comparing socioeconomic inequalities in the receipt of coronary procedures in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and patients with angina.
Methods
Using linked hospital and mortality data, we followed patients admitted to Western Australian hospitals with a first admission for AMI (n = 5539) or angina (n = 7401) in 2001-2003. An outcome event was the receipt, within a year, of a coronary procedure—angiography, angioplasty and/or coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG). Socioeconomic status was assigned to each individual using an area-based measure, the SEIFA Index of Disadvantage. Multivariable proportional hazards regression was used to model the association between socioeconomic status and procedure rates, allowing for censoring and adjustment of multiple covariates. Mediating models examined the effect of private health insurance.
Results
In the AMI patient cohort, socioeconomic gradients were not evident except that disadvantaged women were more likely than advantaged women to undergo CABG. In contrast, in the angina patient group there were clear socioeconomic gradients for all procedures, favouring more advantaged patients. Compared with patients in the most disadvantaged quintile of socioeconomic status, patients in the least disadvantaged quintile were 11% (1-21%) more likely to receive angiography, 52% (29-80%) more likely to undergo angioplasty and 30% (3-55%) more likely to undergo CABG. Private health insurance explained some of the socioeconomic variation in rates.
Conclusions
Australia's universal health care system does not guarantee equity in the receipt of high technology health care for patients with ischaemic heart disease. While such a system might ensure equity for patients with AMI, where guidelines for treatment are relatively well established, this is not the case for angina patients, where health care may be less urgent and more discretionary.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-460
PMCID: PMC2807435  PMID: 20003401

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