Total expenditure elasticity of spending on self-treatment and professional healthcare: a case of Russia
The studies on the demand for healthcare in low- and middle-income countries rarely take into consideration the fact that many people spend their income on self-treatment and professional treatment. The estimation of the income elasticity of demand for self-treatment and professional treatment can show a more precise picture of the affordability of professional care. This paper contributes to the discussion around estimates of income elasticity of health spending and discussion whether professional care and self-treatment are close to a luxury good and inferior good respectively in a middle-income country. We apply the switching regression model to explain the choice between self-treatment and professional healthcare via estimates of the income elasticity. Estimates are made with the use of the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey — Higher School of Economics (RLMS-HSE), a nationally representative survey. While individual expenditure on professional treatment is higher than that on self-treatment, our estimates show that expenses on professional treatment can be income inelastic except when spending on medicines prescribed by a physician that are elastic. The results also indicate that cost of self-treatment is income elastic. In all cases, the considered income elasticities are statistically insignificant between professional and self-treatment.