private health insurance; medical care utilization; moral hazard; South Korea; musculoskeletal disorders
Inquiry, vol. 57, pp. 1 - 11
In South Korea, people may increase their medical coverage by purchasing private health insurance to augment low coverage provided by the National Health Insurance (NHI). Frequent and excessive use of medical care by those with private health insurance is an issue, especially for musculoskeletal disorders that require excessive care and contribute to moral hazard. In South Korea, since private health insurance is structurally linked to the scope of coverage with public health insurance, this increased use of medical care may adversely affect public health insurance finances. This study aimed to analyze the effects of private health insurance on medical care use for patients with musculoskeletal disorders. We used the Korea Health Panel 2014 to 2015 data that included 5622 participants who used medical care for musculoskeletal disorders in 2015. Two groups were created: those who purchased private health insurance (n = 3588) and those without private insurance (n = 2034). We compared their medical utilization using logistic regression, negative binomial regression, and multiple linear regression to determine the associations of private health insurance with medical care use. Medical expenditures by private health insurance purchasers were higher than those of non-purchasers for outpatient care (P < .001), but no differences were found for inpatient care. Our findings suggest that the expansion of private health insurance further burdened the NHI financially, ultimately increasing the burden of medical expenses for the population. Research should implement demonstration studies with different groups of diseases.