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What are the financial barriers to medical care among the poor, the sick and the disabled in the Special Administrative Region of China?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0205794
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
DateAccepted/In press - 12 Sep 2018
DatePublished (current) - 14 Nov 2018


Although Hong Kong is one of the richest cities in the world and has some of the best health outcomes such as long life expectancy, little is known about the people who are unable to access healthcare due to lack of financial means. Cross-sectional data from a sample of 2,233 participants aged 18 or above was collected from the first wave of the “Trends and Implications of Poverty and Social Disadvantages in Hong Kong” survey. Socio-demographic factors, lifestyle factors, and physical and mental health conditions associated with people who were unable to seek medical services due to lack of financial means in the past year were examined using forward stepwise logistic regression analyses. Of the 2,233 participants surveyed, 8.4% did not seek medical care due to lack of financial means during the past year. They were more likely to be income-poor. With respect to physical and mental health, despite having less likelihood to have multimorbidity, they tended to have higher levels of both anxiety and stress, poorer physical and mental health-related quality of life, and suffer from more severe disability and pain symptoms affecting their daily activities, when compared to the rest of the Hong Kong population. People who were denied of medical care due to financial barriers are generally sicker than people in the general Hong Kong population, implying that those with greater healthcare needs may have financial difficulties in receiving timely and appropriate medical care. Our findings suggest that inequity in healthcare utilization remains a critical issue in Hong Kong.

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