Comparing the effects of China's three basic health insurance schemes on the equity of health-related quality of life: using the method of coarsened exact matching

Min Su, Zhongliang Zhou, Yafei Si, Xiaolin Wei, Yongjian Xu, Xiaojing Fan, Gang Chen

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Background: China has three basic health insurance schemes: Urban Employee Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI), Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI) and New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme (NRCMS). This study aimed to compare the equity of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of residents under any two of the schemes. Methods: Using data from the 5th National Health Services Survey of Shaanxi Province, China, coarsened exact matching method was employed to control confounding factors. We included a matched sample of 6802 respondents between UEBMI and URBMI, 34,169 respondents between UEBMI and NRCMS, and 36,928 respondents between URBMI and NRCMS. HRQoL was measured by EQ-5D-3L based on the Chinese-specific value set. Concentration index was adopted to assess health inequality and was decomposed into its contributing factors to explain health inequality. Results: After matching, the horizontal inequity indexes were 0.0036 and 0.0045 in UEBMI and URBMI, 0.0035 and 0.0058 in UEBMI and NRCMS, and 0.0053 and 0.0052 in URBMI and NRCMS respectively, which were mainly explained by age, educational and economic statuses. The findings demonstrated the pro-rich health inequity was much higher for the rural scheme than that for the urban ones. Conclusion: This study highlights the need to consolidate all three schemes by administrating uniformly, merging funds pooling and benefit packages. Based on the contributing factors, strategies aim to facilitate health conditions of the elderly, narrow economic gap, and reduce educational inequity, are essential. This study will provide evidence-based strategies on consolidating the fragmented health schemes towards reducing health inequity in both China and other developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Number of pages12
JournalHealth and Quality of Life Outcomes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2018


  • Basic health insurance schemes
  • China
  • Coarsened exact matching
  • Decomposition
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Income-related health equity

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