Background During the 1990s, Italy privatised a significant portion of its healthcare delivery. The authors compared the effectiveness of private and public sector healthcare delivery in reducing avoidable mortality (deaths that should not occur in the presence of effective medical care).
Methods The authors calculated the average rate of change in age-standardised avoidable mortality rates in 19 of Italy's regions from 1993 to 2003. Multivariate regression models were used to analyse the relationship between rates of change in avoidable mortality and levels of spending on public versus private healthcare delivery, controlling for potential demographic and economic confounders.
Results Greater spending on public delivery of health services corresponded to faster reductions in avoidable mortality rates. Each €100 additional public spending per capita on NHS delivery was independently associated with a 1.47% reduction in the rate of avoidable mortality (p=0.003). In contrast, spending on private sector services had no statistically significant effect on avoidable mortality rates (p=0.557). A higher percentage of spending on private sector delivery was associated with higher rates of avoidable mortality (p=0.002). The authors found that neither public nor private sector delivery spending was significantly associated with non-avoidable mortality rates, plausibly because non-avoidable mortality is insensitive to healthcare services.
Conclusion Public spending was significantly associated with reductions in avoidable mortality rates over time, while greater private sector spending was not at the regional level in Italy.
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Funding The authors declare that they are independent from any funders and that the study was carried out within their institutional work without any support from any third party.
Competing interests NN declares that he is the owner of a small private hospital.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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