Journal Article

Unmet healthcare needs in Ireland: Analysis using the EU-SILC survey

April 30, 2017

Health Policy, Vol. 121, 2017, p.434–441, April, 2017, pp. 434-441

The analysis used the 2013 Survey of Income and Living Conditions to examine the extent and causes of unmet need for healthcare services in Ireland. The analysis found that almost four per cent of participants reported an unmet need for medical care. Overall, lower income groups, those with poorer health status and those without free primary care and/or private insurance were more likely to report an unmet healthcare need. The impact of income on the likelihood of reporting an unmet need was particularly strong for those without free primary care and/or private insurance, suggesting a role for the health system in eradicating income based inequalities in unmet need. Factors associated with the healthcare system – cost and waiting lists – accounted for the majority of unmet needs. Those with largely free public healthcare entitlement were more likely than all other eligibility categories to report that their unmet need was due to waiting lists (rather than cost). While not possible to explicitly examine in this analysis, it is probable that unmet need due to cost is picking up on the relatively high out-of-pocket payments for primary care for those who must pay for GP visits; while unmet need due to waiting is identifying the relatively long waiting times within the acute hospital sector for those within the public system.