Introduction Access to medicines is an indicator of the quality and effectiveness of the health system and essential to hypertension and diabetes patients.
Objective Estimate the factors associated with lack of free access to continuous-use medicines by individuals with diabetes and\or hypertension.
Methodology Study is based on the 2008 National Household Survey (PNAD) in Brazil. Data included individuals aged 20+ years who lived in households covered by the Family Health Program (FHP) who reported diabetes and\or hypertension and were on continuous-use medicines. Those who did not receive any free medicine in the last required occasion were defined as lacking free medicine. Analysis based on prevalence ratios.
Results From 126 203 eligible adults, 5.3% reported diabetes and 26.9% hypertension, being 86% and 81%, respectively, on continuous-use medicines. Among these individuals 21.9% and 28.9% did not receive free medicines. Lack of free medicines increased with rising income and education, and was more common among individuals with private health insurance and those living in the poorer regions of the country. It was less frequent among people who generally attend the same healthcare.
Conclusions Considering that Brazilian Public Health System is committed to provide free access to medicines for diabetes and hypertension and that the studied population is 100% covered by the FHP, the prevalence of no access to free medicines is quite high. However, such failure is not penalising the mostly needed group, as lacking free medication is more common among better off individuals. However, results show persistence of regional inequality in health.
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