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J Rural Health. 2005 Fall;21(4):372-7.

Accessibility assessment of the Health Care Improvement Program in rural Taiwan.

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Department of Health Care Administration, Chung Jung Christian University, Taiwan, Republic of China.



An experimental Health Care Improvement Program (HCIP) was initiated by the Bureau of National Health Insurance in 1997 to improve the accessibility of health care in several rural, mountainous districts.


This longitudinal study evaluated service availability, utilization patterns, and effectiveness of services under the HCIP in the A-Li Mountain District.


Outpatient claims made by residents in the A-Li Mountain District were extracted from the database of the National Health Insurance program. Changes in utilization pattern and volume were analyzed. Satisfaction levels were assessed by 2-stage face-to-face interviews with local residents.


After the HCIP, the average population served by each doctor decreased 75%, and total outpatient visits increased 15.4%. The total number of in-district outpatient visits increased 83.6%. The proportion of in-district outpatient visits to all visits increased from 22.1% to 35.1%. The total in-district outpatient visit fee claimed increased 100.2%, and the total out-of-district outpatient visit fee claimed increased only 7.2%. About 60.4% of the residents were not satisfied with overall health care services before the HCIP. The proportion decreased to 32.4% after the HCIP.


The HCIP improved accessibility, enriched local medical care resources, changed the utilization pattern of some residents, and increased residents' satisfaction level. A well-managed program with stabilized financial resources is more likely to succeed if it also respects cultural differences and responds to community needs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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