When it comes to spending on health care, our country is on the fringes of the European Union, say experts from the Polish Economic Institute. According to analysts of the institute, Poland is spending less money on the health sector than its prosperity means.
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The PIE indicates that spending on healthcare in Poland is growing nominally year after year, but in relative terms (i.e. in terms of GDP), for more than a decade it has remained at roughly the same level (6.2-6.6%). “The value of the funds allocated to health care in Poland places our country among the countries of the European Union that invest in this sector at the very least” – say analysts.
Only Latvia, Romania and Luxembourg spend the least
Citing the most recent data available to the World Health Organization, the PIE indicates that in 2018 Poland spent 830 euros per person on healthcare. This spending is about six times less than among the leaders of the European Union: Luxembourg (5,227 euros), Denmark (5,269 euros) and Sweden (5,069 euros). Only the least wealthy countries in the European Union: Bulgaria (585 euros) and Romania (582 euros) spent less than Poland on healthcare per person.
Experts admit that nominal values, even per capita, are not the best indicator for making comparisons between countries – the cost of running the same tests and treatments will be different in different countries, for example due to differences in labor costs, infrastructure or drug prices. “These are usually positively correlated with a country’s level of wealth, and thus the share of healthcare expenditures in GDP is often used in international comparisons,” – they explain.
“In terms of GDP, Polish health spending in 2018 was 6.3 percent. Only Latvia, Romania and Luxembourg had lower values for this indicator,” we read in the latest issue of “Tygodnik Gospodarczy PIE”.
According to analysts, comparing countries in terms of the share of healthcare spending in GDP is more appropriate than comparing them in terms of nominal spending, but the validity of these classifications can also be questioned.
We read: “In the late 1970s, it was observed that richer countries often spent a greater percentage of their GDP on health than poor countries, at least up to a certain level of income.” Of the 12 countries in the European Union with a GDP per capita of less than 20 thousand in 2018 (Poland – 13.1 thousand), 10 percent of their GDP spent more on health than Poland – the analysis indicated.
In terms of the share of health spending in GDP, Poland also surpassed two of the three poorest countries (Bulgaria and Croatia), the closest to us being Hungary (13.7 thousand) and Croatia (12.6 thousand), which spent 0.5 points on health. More percent of its GDP (6.7% and 6.3%, respectively) – added.
In the opinion of analysts, the average European country with our wealth should have spent 6.8% on healthcare in 2018. GDP – Croatia for example. “The difference between 6.3 per cent and 6.8 per cent of GDP may seem small at first glance, but when converted into zloty, it will turn out to be the equivalent of 10.6 billion euros, or about 12.5 per cent.” The National Health Fund’s budget for 2018 (84.6 PLN (1 billion Polish zlotys) or more than 2 billion Polish zlotys more than we spent in 2018 on reimbursement for medicine costs (8.5 billion Polish zlotys) – they argue.
Poles pay a lot for private treatment
The PIE also indicates “there is no upward trend in the level of spending” – in nominal terms, spending is higher each year, but in terms of its share in GDP, we have observed a stagnation since 2008. The pace of our income, and it should grow faster, “- it was said.
It was also noted that Polish spending on health was 6.3 percent. The GDP, or 830 euros per person, is nearly 30 percent. They were private expenses (28.9%) – incurred by patients (for medication or special visits) and additional private health insurance expenses.
“Since 2000, public spending in Poland accounts for only about 70% of total spending: the highest 71.7% in 2009, and the lowest 67.5% in 2004.” – marked. I add that in terms of the share of public funds in total spending, Poland in 2018 was in the lower half of the European Union group (17 out of 27).
According to the PIE, a high proportion of private spending in health systems, as in Poland (i.e. providing universal insurance at least de jure), may be a symptom of healthcare failure.
“In terms of spending on health, Poland is on the periphery of the European Union. We are not only occupying the last places in terms of per capita spending and the share of spending in GDP, but we also spend less on health than our region will produce wealth” – he emphasized. According to PIE, it is impossible to improve health protection only by changing regulations, and to keep the same budget – too low for the level of development in the country.
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