This article compares the effect of socioeconomic status on consumption of health care services in Canada and the United States. Canada offers universal health care, while the United States has a more complex mix of private and public insurance, and previous research has indicated that socioeconomic status is more likely to effect health care use in the United States than in Canada. However, most previous research on the topic has relied on limited comparative studies.
The authors analyzed data from the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health, 2002-2003. They studied doctor visits and hospitalizations using multivariate models to assess the influence of socioeconomic status after adjusting for health needs and predisposing characteristics.
This research indicates that while the United States and Canada have health insurance systems with very different structures, the two countries have similar health care utilization patterns. In both countries, socioeconomic status affects frequency of doctor visits but not hospitalizations. This research sheds light on some of the interactions between socioeconomic status and health care consumption.