Health care consumption varies by education level

12/11/2014 15:00

Statistics Netherlands announced today that lower educated persons generally more often receive health care services than higher educated people. Factors like age, gender, state of health and income partially account for the differences between higher and lower educated. If these differences are taken into consideration, higher educated people are more frequent consumers of health care than lower educated people. 

Relation between health care consumption and level of education

Health care consumption appears to be related to education level. Lower and higher educated people each have their own health care consumption pattern. Lower educated more often consult GPs and medical specialists, are more often admitted in hospital and more often take prescribed medication. Higher educated, on the other hand, more often consult a dentist and alternative healer and take non-prescribed medicines. Higher and lower educated equally often go to the physiotherapist: within the space of one year, more than a quarter of over-25s seek treatment from a physiotherapist.

Health care consumption in the population aged 25 years and older, 2013

Health care consumption in the population aged 25 years and older, 2013

Factors age, gender, state of health and income partly account for care consumption

The relation between education level and health care consumption is partly caused by differences in age and gender. Evidently, older people more often rely on health care services than young people. Older men are generally better educated than older women and young people are better educated than older people. The relation between education level and health care consumption is also related to differences in state of health between lower and higher educated individuals. In general, higher educated persons feel healthier than lower educated persons. 
If these differences are taken into consideration, the differences between lower and higher educated regarding GP contacts, hospital admissions, day-patient admissions and prescribed medication would disappear. In that case, higher educated people would have more frequent contacts with medical specialist, dentist, physiotherapist and alternative healer and they would take more non-prescribed medicines than lower educated people. This is possibly due to the fact that higher educated people are better informed about illness and health-related issues and are more aware of the importance of prevention. 

Health care consumption, if age, gender and perceived state of health are taken into account, population aged 25 years and older, 2013

Health care consumption, if age, gender and perceived state of health are taken into account, population aged 25 years and older, 2013

On average, higher educated people earn more than their lower educated counterparts. If income effects would be eliminated, the differences regarding contacts with medical specialists, dentists and physiotherapists would be reduced.