Intergenerational Monetary Transfers and Health Care Service Utilization among Older Adults in Rural China
Merril Silverstein, Syracuse University
Zhen Cong, Texas Tech University
Affordable health care for older people remains a public policy concern in rural China. Despite the development of a rural health care insurance scheme, outpatient visits are still mostly paid out-of-pocket by older patients. In this investigation we ask whether remittances from adult children allow older adults to use medical care when needed. We used a random sample of older adults living in Anhui Province (N = 1,050) to examine whether net monetary transfers enabled older adults in poorer health to use outpatient services that included physicians, nurses, and “barefoot” doctors. Poisson regression and longitudinal fixed effects regression revealed an interaction between net monetary transfers from children and self-rated health. Among older people in worse health, transfers increased the frequency with which medical services were used. We conclude that remittances allow older adults in rural China to get needed services even in the presence of universal health insurance.