Healthcare in Europe

The eurocrisis and austerity policies imposed by European governments have placed new pressures on healthcare systems across the continent. This page collates EUROPP’s coverage of healthcare and healthcare reform in Europe.

Given that obesity produces significant social costs, public health authorities need to be far more pro-active in designing interventions

Obesity is an increasingly important problem in European countries. Joan Costa-i-Font argues that obesity is an example of market failure and that policy should focus on changing social rewards to unhealthy food consumption and tackling the prevailing social norms with regards to sedentary behaviour at home and the workplace. Obesity in Europe has reached epidemic proportions. The prevalence of overweight […]

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Europe has pursued a progressive agenda of tobacco control, driven by the UK, Ireland and other states in Northern Europe

Restrictions placed on the use of tobacco products have increased across European countries over recent decades. Donley Studlar assesses the different approaches taken in different states, noting that the UK, Ireland and several Nordic countries have more restrictive approaches than other parts of Europe. He also writes that the relative success of public health campaigns against tobacco use may act […]

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The end of the Soviet Union’s anti-alcohol campaign may explain a substantial share of Russia’s ‘mortality crisis’ in the 1990s

Russia experienced an extreme spike in death rates in the immediate aftermath of the break-up of the Soviet Union. Jay Bhattacharya, Christina Gathmann and Grant Miller write that while this has typically been explained using political and economic arguments, the real cause of Russia’s mortality crisis may have been the end of Mikhail Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign. Using a series of […]

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The financial crisis means that Europe will need to look beyond the public sector to provide its healthcare needs

The financial crisis has led to public spending cuts across most European countries. Richard B Saltman and Zachary Cahn write that even if current levels of health spending are maintained, public healthcare systems will increasingly come under strain due to projected rises in healthcare costs. They argue that the only solution left for European governments is to increase the contribution […]

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National health services tend to be introduced by countries with social democratic governments that also have a concentration of political power.

Why do different countries have different healthcare systems? Federico Toth looks at the three major types of healthcare systems in industrialised countries: voluntary insurance, social health insurance, and national health services (NHS). Using evidence from 15 countries, he argues that those countries with left-leaning governments tend to institute an NHS, while those who are right leaning or authoritarian tend to […]

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Public reporting of quality indicators for long-term care in Europe has the potential to play a key role in driving improvements.

How do European countries differ in helping older people choose a care home, and what is the impact of the public reporting of quality information? In a comparative study of six European countries, Ricardo Rodrigues and Andrea E. Schmidt explain that public reporting is still a far from well-established mechanism to guide the selection of care homes, and user choice […]

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After decades of decentralisation, the state now has a growing role in Nordic health systems.

The onset of the financial crisis has forced many European governments into reforming public services, including healthcare. Despite this economic turmoil, the Nordic states have so far been insulated from some of the pressures faced in other European countries. Richard Saltman, Karsten Vrangbaek, Juhani Lehto and Ulrika Winblad look at how the Nordic countries have moved to decentralise the control […]

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European health systems are changing in response to the financial crisis but face barriers to implementing necessary reforms.

The financial crisis has affected almost every aspect of European governments’ ability to maintain public services, and healthcare has been no exception. Philipa Mladovsky and Sarah Thomson look at how health systems have responded to the financial crisis and find that there is substantial variation across Europe. Some countries were better prepared than others to cope with a fiscal shock, […]

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In Cyprus, the Troika should be promoting health reforms towards universal coverage, not derailing them.

Last November, the Troika agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Cyprus, which also made special reference to the country’s health sector. Ahead of Presidential elections in Cyprus on Sunday, Jonathan Cylus, Irene Papanicolas and Mamas Theodorou argue that some of the key recommendations of the Memorandum, such as eliminating access to healthcare at reduced rates, and increasing some fees, threaten […]

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Health reforms in the Netherlands have increased access to health care, but have also led to an unexpected growth in health spending.

The Netherlands implemented major reforms to its health care system in 2006. Ilaria Mosca assesses the consequences of the reform programme, noting that while there have been improvements to service delivery, there have also been negative consequences such as an increase in overall health spending. There are still some key problems which need to be resolved if the system is […]

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In the UK and Germany, rising immigration may not put health services under undue pressure

One of the main arguments against increased immigration is that it puts pressure on public services, by ‘crowding out’ other parts of the population. Using evidence from Germany and the UK, Jonathan Wadsworth investigates immigrants’ use of health services, finding that while there may be some difference in health outcomes, immigrants do not use health services substantially more than the […]

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For people living in the countries of the former Soviet Union, poorer health means a lower chance of working.

In the two decades since its break up, the countries of the former Soviet Union have undergone significant economic growth and development. But current health outcomes in these countries do not reflect this, and this can have significant side effects on other aspects of society, such as the workforce. Yevgeniy Goryakin and colleagues find that the poor health of people […]

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An ageing population means that new solutions are foreseen to ensure long term care continues to be sustainable in the Netherlands

The Netherlands spends the second most per-capita on health in Europe, and healthcare was a very important issue in the recent Dutch elections. Hans Maarse looks at the future of long term care in the Netherlands, which makes up for more than 20 per cent of expenditure on healthcare. With an ageing population, simply spending more on healthcare is no […]

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The health sector in Greece has been severely affected by the economic crisis, raising concerns for the future of the Greek health system.

The financial crisis has had a tremendous impact on Greece’s economy, exacerbating existing problems. The health sector has been seriously affected by the economic situation, and the two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) that Greece has signed since 2010 dictate a series of measures that focus on the reduction of public expenditure. Daphne Kaitelidou and Eugenia Kouli outline some of the […]

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Book Review: The Politics of Precaution: Regulating Health, Safety, and Environmental Risks in Europe and the United States

The Politics of Precaution examines the politics of consumer and environmental risk regulation in the United States and Europe over the last five decades, explaining why America and Europe have often regulated a wide range of similar risks differently. It finds that between 1960 and 1990, American health, safety, and environmental regulations were more stringent, risk averse, comprehensive, and innovative than […]

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The challenge to Portugal’s health service is not an ageing population, but how best to organize healthcare delivery

Many European countries now face the demographic challenge of an ageing population that many predict will strain public services, including healthcare, to a near breaking point. Pedro Pita Barros argues that Portugal is unlikely to witness an explosion in healthcare expenditure, despite its ageing population. In fact, the main challenges are not in the costs of healthcare to the elderly, […]

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In the Czech Republic, austerity has provided a window of opportunity for healthcare reform

Austerity policies adopted all over Europe have provided momentum for painful reforms of healthcare sectors. Tomas Roubal explains which policies the Czech Republic has adopted since the beginning of the crisis, and argues that the country’s health care system has started the process of fundamental modernization.   The Czech Republic has had one of the most stable and prosperous economies in […]

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The reform of the Estonian health care system in a time of crisis is a role model for Europe

In the midst of the European financial and economic crisis, Estonia fundamentally reformed its health care system. Triin Habicht describes which changes were introduced. She argues that the Estonian reform could serve as a role model for many countries in the European Union. Between 2001 and 2007, Estonia had one of the fastest growing economies in Europe with annual growth rates […]

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