In 2002, Chile introduced a major health reform, designed to level out inequities in healthcare coverage, access and opportunities. In particular, the opportunity guarantees ensure a maximum time to receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment, and thus, gender bias should not be observed.
To explore the existence of differences in the timeliness of treatment between women and men under the Chilean public health insurance system. We controlled by other observable variables, including age, insurance holder status, provider complexity and health district.
We used an individual level database that includes all interactions for the diseases covered under the national plan from 2014 to 2019. We excluded from the analysis the diseases affecting only men, women, and infants. To study the waiting time differences between women and men, we first perform a Welch two sample t-test. Then, we used a multilevel hierarchical regression model to further explore the impact of gender in waiting time. At the individual level, we included gender, insurance holder status, age, and the interaction between gender and age. For the aggregate levels, we used the specific opportunity guarantee, the type of provider, and health district.
From the Welch two sample t-test, we found significant differences in waiting times between women and men, in seven opportunity guarantees. From the multilevel regression, the individual variables: holder status, ages between 35 and 49, and the interaction between gender and age for ages between 40 and 54 were statistically significant at 95% level. We remark that the major differences in waiting times between women and men were observed for individuals between ages from 40 to 54, with women waiting significantly longer.
Results show the existence of bias in the timeliness of treatment, proving that universal guarantees are not enough to reduce gender inequalities in health care.