Delivering the Goods? Access to Family Physician Services in Canada: A Comparison of 1985 and 1991
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In recent years considerable attention has been given to the effects of universal, first-dollar coverage for health care services as provided under Canada's health care system. However, no consideration has been given to the stability of these effects through periods of changing economic climate. In this paper we consider the extent to which the achievements of the Canadian approach to health care funding have been maintained in the presence of increasing attention to cost containment. Multivariate analyses are used to (a) explain variations in utilization of family physician services among the population and (b) explore the relationship between utilization and need for periods of differing economic circumstances. We observe that the relative importance of differences in need in explaining variations in use among the population was less in the period when cost containment was of greater concern. These findings indicate that policymakers cannot assume that removing financial barriers to access to service, although important in achieving a more equitable distribution of service utilization, may be sufficient to sustain such distributions during time of constraint.
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