Background: Illness and the medical expenditure that follows have a profound impact on the well-being of individuals and households. China is a huge country with significant regional differences. The goal of this study is to investigate the associations of illness and medical expenditure with other categories of household expenditures, with special attention paid to the differences in observations between the western and eastern regions. Methods: A survey was conducted in six major cities in China, three in the east and three in the west, in 2011. Data on demographics, illness conditions, and medical and other expenditures were collected from 12,515 households. Results: In the analysis of the associations of illness conditions and medical expenditure with demographics, multiple significant associations were observed, and there are differences between the eastern and western regions. In univariate analyses, illness conditions and medical expenditure were found as having significant associations with other categories of expenditures. In multivariate analyses adjusting for household and household head characteristics, few associations were observed, and there exist differences between the regions. Conclusions: This study has provided empirical evidence on the associations of illness/medical expenditure with demographics and with other categories of expenditures. Differences across regions were observed in multiple aspects. The reasons underlying such differences are worth investigating further.
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