The use of health care services varies with sociodemographic and health patterns and according to the supply of health services. The Brazilian health system is composed by a free public health system (SUS) and a private system. Data from PNAD 2003 were used for analyzing regional and sociodemographic differences in both public and private systems. The dependent variable was use of public or private health care services and the variables used were sex, age, skin color, educational level, per capita family income and affiliation with a private health insurance. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify the variables of users of the public health system. The users of the public system were mainly women, children, the black population, and individuals with low educational level and income. There is a relation between bad/regular health status, low education and income and use of the public health system. The demand for health care is similar for users of the public and private systems. Results point to a positive role of the public health system in promoting equal access to health care. However, 4% of the population, composed by black adults with low income and education has poor access to health services.
Use of health care; Health system; Equity