Monday, 11 May 2009

Financial pandemic as a catalyst for change

That healthcare spending do not automatically decrease in situations of financial pandemics was showed by Cristian Baeza at the Czech Presidencies Sustainable Finance conference. He had looked into 2 other periods of economic hardship in first 80-83 and then 99-93 to see if countries decreased their spending on healthcare just to find that yes some but not at all. So is it all just more of the same?

Czech Deputy Minister Pavel Hroboň took a slightly different angle in his opening remarks aiming to set the agenda for the 2 days discussion by pointing out that the way forward in the financial crisis could be to “use the current challenges as a catalyst for change”.

Several speakers followed his example for example former Dutch Health minister Aart de Geus who pointed out that healthcare spend will not decrease and now is the time for recruitments from other sectors. He claimed that cost sharing is essential for building a good healthcare system and pointed out that there is a need for incentives also for providers to take the good decisions. I would say that it should not stay there - also patients should be part of this cost/risk sharing in order to facilitate really good health management.

The other presenters then more exemplified what opportunities there is for change - the most uplifting example came from the Lithuanian Health Minister Algis Caplikas who pointed out that they in their efforts to make balanced investments in healthcare have taken a range of steps, for example looking at the issue of salaries but also by starting a discussion on co-payment of patients. One could guess that this comes as reaction partly to the conclusions and findings in the Health Consumer Powerhouse report Patient Empowerment where it is pointed out that those countries without co-payment like for example Lithuania are also those scoring badly in the Euro Health Consumer Index. Whatever the reason it is a small step forward.

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