The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine
Online ISSN : 1349-3329
Print ISSN : 0040-8727
ISSN-L : 0040-8727
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Worsening Health Status among Evacuees: Analysis of Medical Expenditures after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima
Makoto HasegawaMichio MurakamiShuhei NomuraYoshitake TakebayashiMasaharu Tsubokura
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2019 Volume 248 Issue 2 Pages 115-123

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Abstract

After Fukushima disaster in 2011, the health status of the region’s residents deteriorated. We analyzed the health status, care needs, and access to health services among evacuees and non-evacuees using healthcare expenditure (for self-employed and unemployed individuals aged < 75 years) and long-term care expenditure (mainly for individuals aged ≥ 65 years). Fukushima Prefecture was divided into four areas according to their evacuation status: non-EOAs (municipalities that did not include evacuation order areas (EOAs)); EOAs/non-EOAs (municipalities that included both EOAs and non-EOAs); short-term EOAs (municipalities where the EOA designation was lifted in most areas by fiscal year (FY) 2011); and long-term EOAs (municipalities where most EOA designations remained in place until the end of FY 2015). Increases in expenditure on healthcare and long-term care per capita in short-term and long-term EOAs were greater in FY 2015 than the average values in FYs 2008-2010. The increases in expenditure were higher in short-term and long-term EOAs than those in non-EOAs and EOAs/non-EOAs. The increases in dental health expenditure were attributed to enhanced accessibility to dental health facilities. Furthermore, the evacuations contributed to increases in healthcare and long-term care expenditure, independent of aging and improved accessibly to health facilities. Possible explanations for these increases include the poor health status of the evacuees following the evacuations, reduced availability of informal care provided by family members and neighbors, and reduced patient copayments. The findings highlight the necessity of health promotion among evacuees.

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© 2019 Tohoku University Medical Press
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