Journal 8, August 2006pages: 558-562
Objectives: To assess the effects of the recently introduced co-payment for consultant specialist services on patients' utilization of these services in southern Israel.
Methods: Computerized utilization data on specialists' services for 6 months before and 6 months after initiation of co-payment were retrieved from the database of Israel's largest health management organization.
Results: A decrease of 4.5% was found in the total number of visits to Soroka Medical Center outpatient clinics and of 6.8% to community-based consultants. An increase of 20.1% was noted in the number of non-actualized visits at the outpatient clinics. A decrease of 6.2% in new visits was found in the hospital outpatient clinics and of 6.5% in community clinics. A logistic regression model showed that the residents of development towns and people aged 75+ and 12–34 were more likely not to keep a prescheduled appointment.
Conclusion: After introduction of a modest co-payment, a decrease in the total number of visits to specialists with an increase in "no-shows" was observed. The logistic regression model suggests that people of lower socioeconomic status are more likely not to keep a prescheduled appointment.