The purpose of the study was to investigate the satisfaction of persons with chronic conditions with access to health services and to compare it with satisfaction among those who did not suffer from chronic illness in 2002 and 2005.
Methods. In 2002 and 2005, subjects of random samples of Estonian residents aged 15–74 were personally interviewed using structured questionnaires (n=999 and n=1446, respectively).
Results. Compared to the year 2002, satisfaction with access to health services decreased in 2005, especially among persons with chronic conditions. The level of satisfaction was predicted by satisfaction with the health insurance system and with the primary health care (PHC) system, as well as, by satisfaction with the FD, larger number of visits to specialists and experience with problems related to seeing specialists. Persons with chronic conditions were more satisfied with their family doctors (FD), but less satisfied with the health insurance system, while they often reported problems related to seeing specialists. Compared to the other respondents, persons with chronic conditions visited their FDs and specialists more often. The waiting time to see the FD shortened in 2005 compared to the year 2002, but the waiting time to see a specialist became longer in 2005. No significant differences were found between their waiting times to see the FD or a specialist.
Conclusion. Satisfaction with access to health services depends on access to specialised medical care, but also on satisfaction with the PHC system. Strengthening of the existing PHC system and provision of access to specialised medical care when needed, support increase in satisfaction with access to health services.