A national pilot program for chronic diseases and health inequalities in South Korea

Rangkyoung Ha, Dongjin Kim, Jihee Choi, Kyunghee Jung-Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: To achieve the health equity, it is important to reduce socioeconomic inequalities when managing chronic diseases. In South Korea, a pilot program for chronic diseases was implemented at the national level. This study aimed to examine its effect on socioeconomic inequalities in chronic disease management at the individual and regional levels. Methods: Korean National Health Insurance data from September 2016 to October 2017 were used. Study subjects in the national pilot program for chronic diseases included 31,765 participants and 5,741,922 non-participants. The dependent variable was continuity of prescription medication. Socioeconomic position indicators were health insurance contribution level and the area deprivation index. Covariates were gender, age, and the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI). A multilevel logistic regression model was used to address the effects at both the individual and regional levels. This is a cross-sectional study. Results: Unlike the group of non-participants, the participants showed no inequality in prescription medication continuity according to individual-level socioeconomic position. However, continuity of prescription medication was higher among those in less deprived areas compared to those in more deprived areas in both the participation and non-participation groups. Conclusions: This study found that the pilot program for chronic diseases at the least did not contribute to the worsening of health inequalities at the individual level in South Korea. However, there was a trend showing health inequalities based on the socioeconomic level of the area. These findings suggest that additional policy measures are needed to attain equality in the management of chronic diseases regardless of the regional socioeconomic position.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1142
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Area deprivation
  • Chronic disease management
  • Continuity of prescription medication
  • Health inequality
  • Pilot program
  • Socioeconomic position


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