Introduction The introduction of universal health insurance coverage aims to provide equal accessibility and affordability of health care, but whether such a policy eliminates health inequalities has not been conclusively determined. This research aims to examine the healthcare outcomes of oral cancer and determine whether the universal coverage system in Taiwan has reduced health inequality. Methods Linking the databases of the National Cancer Registry with the National Mortality Registry in Taiwan, we stratified patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma by gender and income to estimate the incidence rate, cumulative incidence rate aged from 20 to 79 (CIR20-79), life expectancy, and expected years of life lost (EYLL). The difficulties with asymmetries and short follow-up periods were resolved through applying survival analysis extrapolation methods. Results While all people showed a general improvement in life expectancy after the introduction of the NHI, the estimated change in EYLL’s of the high-, middle-, and low-income female patients were found to have +0.3, -0.5 and -7 years of EYLL, respectively, indicating a reduction in health inequality. Improvements for the male patients were unremarkable. There was no drop in the CIR20-79 of oral cancer in disadvantaged groups as in those with higher incomes. Conclusions Universal coverage alone may not reduce health inequality across different income groups for oral cancer unless effective preventive measures are implemented for economically disadvantaged regions.
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