Demand for Public Health Care in Pakistan

JEL Classification : I110, I180, O150
Publication Year : 2009

A health care demand model is estimated for each province in Pakistan to explain the outpatient visits to government hospitals over the period 1989–2006. The explanatory variables include the number of government hospitals per capita, doctors’ fee per visit at a private clinic, income per capita, the average price of medicine and the number of outpatient visits per capita in the previous period. All variables are significant determinants of the demand for health care in at least one province but their signs, magnitudes and the levels of significance vary. These variations may be attributed to cultural, social and religious factors that vary across provinces. Variations in health care quality offered at public hospitals may also be a factor. These factors and improved accessibility of health care facilities should be the focus of public policy aimed at increasing the usage of public sector health care facilities in Pakistan.