Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of the sociodemographic and health characteristics on the out-of-pocket health spending of the individuals aged 20 and older in Korea.
Methods: We used the data from the 2001 National Public Health and Nutrition Survey. The final sample size was 26,154 persons. Multiple linear regression models were used according to the age groups, that is, one model was used for those people under the age of sixty-five and the other was used for those people aged sixty-five and older. In these analyses, the expenditures were transformed to a logarithmic scale to reduce the skewness of the results.
Results: Out-of-pocket health expenditures for those people under the age of 65 averaged 14,800 won per month, whereas expenditures for those people aged 65 and older averaged 27,200 won per month. In the regression analysis, the insurance type, resident area, self-reported health status, acute or chronic condition and bed-disability days were the statistically significant determinants for both age groups. Gender and age were statistically significant determinants only for the non-elderly.
Conclusions: The findings from this study show that the mean out-of-pocket health expenditures varied according to the age groups and also several diverse characteristics. Thus, policymakers should consider the out-of-pocket health expenditure differential between the elderly and non-elderly persons. Improvement of the insurance coverage for the economically vulnerable subgroups that were identified in this study should be carefully considered. In addition, it is necessary to assess the impact of out-of-pocket spending on the peoples' health care utilization.