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Co-insurance and health care utilization in Japanese patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a discontinuity regression approach.

Int J Equity Health; 18(1): 22, 2019 01 28.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30691462


Co-insurance rates in Japan decrease when patients turn 70 years of age. We aim to compare changes in medical demand for Japanese patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at age 70 prior to 2014, when there was a reduction in co-insurance rates from 30 to 10%, with changes in medical demand at age 70 after 2014 when co-insurance rates decreased from 30% to only 20%.


We used administrative data from large Japanese hospitals. We employed a discontinuity regression (RD) approach to control for unobserved endogeneity in the data.


We identified a total of 7343 patients with RA, 4905 (67%) turned age 70 before April, and found that a 20% decrease in co-insurance was associated with increased utilization of more expensive biologic RA drugs, more outpatient visits and higher total medical costs. However, a 10% decrease in co-insurance for patients who turned 70 after 2014 did not significantly change demand for medical services.


For the younger cohort, we did not observe any changes in medical demand after a price decrease. We therefore conclude that the economic goal of cost sharing, namely a behavioural change towards lower health-care utilization, is not achieved in this particular cohort of chronic patients.