Utilization of health-care services by young children: The aftermath of the Turkish Health Transformation Program
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The Turkish Health Transformation Program, initiated in 2003, has identified achieving universal access to health care as 1 of its main tenets. To date, substantial progress has been made toward universal health coverage. Service utilization statistics display an upward trend. In this study, we use official and nationally representative microdata collected by the Turkish Health Research Surveys to examine young children's (ages 0-5) utilization of health services. Children in this age group deserve special attention because adverse health conditions in early childhood are known to have long-time consequences. Policy makers regularly monitor statistics such as infant mortality rate and under-5 mortality rate. We conduct logistic regression analyses to explain the probabilities of being taken to a health institution, to a dentist, and being included in the newborn screening program. We use a rich set of explanatory variables that represent the socioeconomic status (SES) of the child's household. Contrary to our expectations and to the goals of universal health coverage is SES indicators such as the insurance ownership of the parent matter for utilization. Decomposition analyses confirm these findings and reveal that the increase in utilization should have been higher than observed. Children from low SES households should be given special attention and that research efforts should focus on identifying the barriers that still hinder children's utilization of health-care services.
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