Did the expansion of free GP care impact demand for Emergency Department attendances? A difference-in-differences analysis
Brendan Walsh (),
Anne Nolan (),
Aoife Brick and
Conor Keegan ()
Social Science & Medicine, 2019, vol. 222, issue C, 101-111
The removal of co-payments for General Practitioner (GP) services has been shown to increase utilisation of GP care. The introduction of free GP care may also have spillover effects on utilisation of other healthcare such as Emergency Department (ED) services, which often serve as substitutes for primary care, and where co-payments to attend exist for many. In Ireland, out-of-pocket payments are paid by the majority of the population to access GP care, and these costs are amongst the highest in Europe. However, in July 2015 all children in Ireland aged under 6 became eligible for free GP care. Using a large administrative dataset on 413,562 ED attendances between January 2015 and June 2016 we apply a difference-in-differences method, with treatment and control groups differentiated by age, to examine whether ED utilisation changed amongst younger children following the introduction of universal free GP care. In particular, we examine ED attendances following a GP referral, as referrals from GPs also afford access to the ED free of charge. We find that the expansion of free GP care did not reduce overall ED utilisation for under 6s. Additionally, we find that the proportion of ED attendances occurring through GP referrals increased by over 2 percentage points. This latter finding may be indicative of increased pressure placed on GPs from increased demand. Overall, this study finds that expanding free GP care to all young children did not reduce their ED utilisation.
Keywords: Ireland; Universal primary care; Emergency Department; Difference-in-differences; Administrative data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:socmed:v:222:y:2019:i:c:p:101-111
Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
http://www.elsevier. ... _01_ooc_1&version=01
Access Statistics for this article
Social Science & Medicine is currently edited by Ichiro (I.) Kawachi and S.V. (S.V.) Subramanian
More articles in Social Science & Medicine from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Nithya Sathishkumar ().