APH 2001, 59, 239-263:

Socio-economic differences in health and access to health care.

F. Louckx, C. Vanroelen and M. Beck

Keywords: Family characteristics, health services accessibility, health status,
mental health, multivariate analysis, psychosocial deprivation, socio-economic factors

This paper discusses the socio-economic differences in health and health care accessibility, based on the data of the first Belgian Health Survey (1997).  Self-rated health, the average number of disorders, mental health, and social health are successively analysed by means of four socio-economic and demographic indicators (equivalent income, educational attainment, household type, and activity status).  The "difficulties in paying for health care" variable is also analysed against these four fixed indicators.  The analyses were carried out by means of a Multiple Classification Analysis.  Besides this empirical section, the article provides a comparison of the Belgian findings against the health variations in the Netherlands and England, as well as some explanations for the socio-economic health differences and the accessibility problems in the Belgian Health Service.  The main conclusion is that individuals with a higher income or higher level of education are more likely to have a better self-rated, physical, mental, and social health, and are less likely to have difficulty in paying for health care expenses.  Women are often in worse health than men.  Finally, it is possible to identify three subgroups which, generally speaking, are in a more precarious position, i.e. single women, the unemployed (men), and sick or disabled people.