Analysis of Healthcare Financing, Supply and Utilisation Trends in the New EU Countries
Jane E. Ruseski
The EU expanded in 2004 to include eight transition countries, i.e. Central and Eastern European (CEE) and newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, and two other CEE countries are scheduled to join the EU in 2007. Each of these countries has undertaken substantial healthcare reform efforts over the past 15 years. The paths of healthcare reform are diverse for a number of reasons including differences in initial economic, political and structural conditions. The objective of this article is to evaluate the process and preliminary outcomes of healthcare reform in the new EU and candidate countries by analysing trends in aggregate financing, supply and utilisation indicators using data drawn from the WHO Health for All database. The analysis is done in the context of an analytical framework built around common healthcare reform themes. The key reform measures examined include implementing social insurance systems, implementing payment systems that promote efficiency, and removal of excess capacity. The trend analysis highlights the importance of the economic, political and social context in driving the direction and pace of healthcare reform. For example, the transition to social insurance systems was smoother in countries with stronger economies and political commitment to reform. Policies aimed at improving the efficiency of the healthcare system, reducing utilisation and reducing excess capacity were met with some success in all of the countries. However, the reform effort continues as the countries are still addressing the initial challenges of insufficient funding, informal payments, excess capacity and inefficiencies in the provision of healthcare.
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