Purpose: The objective of the study was to assess the influence of socioeconomic status (SES) on the care of patients with diabetes.
Methods: Quality indicators for patients who were taking medication for diabetes were established. Overall compliance with the quality indicators, as well as prevalence of diabetes by age, were obtained from a national database. Patients with national tax exemptions (used as a marker for low SES) were compared to those without.
Results: Of 4,110,852 citizens aged 18-74, 210,988 (5.1%) were receiving medication for diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes reached 19.9% in people aged 65-74. 495,392 citizens had an exemption, and they had a higher prevalence of diabetes that those who did not (15.4% vs. 3.7%). Patients with an exemption had a higher rate of having a yearly HbA1c done, a yearly LDL level done, a yearly eye exam, a yearly urinary protein exam, of being treated with insulin for an elevated HbA1c than those without an exemption. In patients with an exemption there was a lower percentage with an HbA1c less than 7%, a higher percentage with an HbA1c greater than 9%, and a lower percentage with an LDL less than 130. Multivariate analysis showed that exemption status was a predictor of better performance on process measures (LDL test done, OR-1.03, 95% CI 1.01-1.06, HbA1c test done, OR 1.03, 95% CI- 1.01-1.05) and of worse outcomes (high LDL, OR 0.92, 95% CI, 0.90-0.95 and high HbA1c, OR, 0.85, 95% CI, 0.83-0.87).
Conclusions: In a country with universal healthcare, patients from a lower SES had an increased prevalence of diabetes and had greater adherence to preventive healthcare measures However, they were less successful in meeting target treatment goals.