Disability, poverty, and role of the basic livelihood security system on health services utilization among the elderly in South Korea

Boyoung Jeon, Haruko Noguchi, Soonman Kwon, Tomoko Ito, Nanako Tamiya*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


With rapid aging, many of the elderly suffer from poverty and high healthcare needs. In Korea, there is a means-tested and non-contributory public assistance, the National Basic Livelihood Security System (NBLSS). The purpose of this study is to show older population's condition of disability and poverty, to evaluate the impact of NBLSS on health services utilization, and to examine the differential effect of the NBLSS by disability status among the elderly. This study used the Korea Welfare Panel Study data 2005–2014 with the final sample of 40,365, who were 65 years and older. The participants were divided into people with mild disability, severe disability, and without disability according to the Korean disability registration system. The income-level was defined to the low-income with NBLSS, the low-income without NBLSS, and the middle and high income, using the relative poverty line as a proxy of the low-income. The dependent variables were the number of outpatient visits and inpatient days, experience of home care services, total healthcare expenditure, and financial burden of healthcare expenditure. We performed Generalized Estimating Equations population-averaged model using the ten years of panel data. The result showed that within the same disability status, the low-income without NBLSS group used the least amount of inpatient care, but their financial burden of health expenditure was the highest among the three income groups. The regression model showed that if the elderly with severe disability were in the low-income without NBLSS, they reduced the outpatient and inpatient days; but their financial burden of healthcare became intensified. This study shows that the low-income elderly with disability but without adequate social protection are the most disadvantaged group. Policy is called for to mitigate the difficulties of this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1


  • Aged
  • Disability
  • Health services
  • Poverty
  • Social security
  • South Korea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Disability, poverty, and role of the basic livelihood security system on health services utilization among the elderly in South Korea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this