Slovakia tops V4 in health-care expenditures, lacks respective indicators

Slovaks consume the most drugs among V4 countries, while problems remain also with the prescription rate, inefficient medication and spending on laboratory examinations and radiodiagnosis.

Slovaks consume the most drugs among V4 countriesSlovaks consume the most drugs among V4 countries (Source: Sme)

Though Slovakia spends more money on health care than neighbouring countries in the Visegrad Four (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia), it lags behind in terms of results. One of the reasons behind this phenomenon is low efficiency, the TASR newswire reported.

“If the efficiency were to rise to the OECD average the life expectancy in Slovakia might be extended by three months,” reads the OECD report on health expenditures, as quoted by TASR, “or alternatively Slovakia could achieve the same life expectancy at expenditures 8 percent lower.”

Public spending in Slovak health care stood at 5.6 percent of GDP in 2015 which surpasses the average figures in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Despite this, the three countries in question record a mortality rate preventable with health-care spending that is 15 percent lower on average, a number that translates into 1,890 fewer deaths yearly in proportion to the Slovak population. Czech, Hungarian and Polish males enjoy higher life expectancies by six months and females by five months, according to OECD.

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As the analysis established, Slovaks consume more drugs than Czechs. If the consumption dropped to the level seen in the Czech Republic, the expenditures would decrease by €137-197 million. The problem, however, remains with the high prescription rate and inefficient medication in terms of costs with additional tens of millions of euros likely to be saved in the purchase of special health equipment. Furthermore, indebted hospitals would benefit from streamlined procurement processes of goods and services as well as from the introduction of a DRG system. Slovakia also spends twice as much as the rest of neighbouring countries on laboratory examinations and radiodiagnosis, TASR wrote.

“It could be a larger number of examinations that contribute to higher expenditures in Slovakia in this sphere but higher examination costs in comparison to those in the neighbouring countries could also be the culprit,” reads the report. “If Slovakia had the costs per capita at the level of the Czech Republic, it would spend €151 million less annually on radiodiagnosis and laboratories.”

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Public expenditures of Slovakia on health care recorded steeper growth than those in other fields. The combined expenditures of health insurers equalled €4.2 billion (5.4 percent of GDP) in 2015, with €4 billion earmarked for health care. Most of the money went to drug stores (€904 million), followed by general hospitals (€890 million) and examinations (€440 million), TASR reported.

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