Analysis: Health care in Slovakia still lags behind

July 28, 2015 5:50 am 

By Richard Kvasnovsky

BRATISLAVA, July 27 (PNA/Xinhua) — slovakia is lagging behind the advanced world in terms of life expectancy and quality amid the risk of a rapid rise in the deficit in the health-care sector, the long-term analyses of the health-care sector in slovakia have shown.

"Our country is lagging behind in terms of the quality of health. Slovaks along with Latvians have the lowest number of years of healthy living among all 28 EU-member countries," Peter Golias, head of analytical institute INEKO, said.

While Slovaks can have a healthy life until 54 years of age on average, the EU average is seven years higher. Meanwhile, Norway's figure is 15 years higher than Slovakia's.

"The proportion of older people who can live a full-fledged life is barely half of those in the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Hungary, and one quarter lower when compared to Norway, Sweden and Switzerland," added Golias.

Slovakia also scores poorly regarding preventable deaths; that is, deaths caused by illnesses that might have been prevented had they been treated.

"This death rate is among the highest in the EU and is second highest after Hungary in the OECD," pointed out Golias.

According to the OECD, the expenditures on health in Slovakia have doubled over the past decade and currently exceed USD 2,000 per person per year. In terms of the use of antibiotics, recent statistics by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show that Slovaks use more of these medicines than Czechs and Hungarians.

"The philosophy of providing health care needs to be changed. The prevalence of a medical attitude in issuing numerous prescriptions instead of all other care needs to be removed. What patients need just as much is nursing and prevention, which they don't receive due to a shortage of nurses," stressed head of the Nurses and Patients Association (ASAP) Lubica Kocanova.

Meanwhile, with 5.9 nurses per 1,000 inhabitants in Slovakia, the country ranks below the average for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 00 8.8 nurses per 1,000.

"It isn't just lower salaries that prompts our nurses to go and work abroad. They lack responsibilities, which, by contrast, are conferred on nurses in the Czech Republic, for example," added Kocanova.

Slovakia is the only EU country that doesn't have implemented the Diagnoses Related Groups (DRG) system which classifies groups for the purpose of payments. Slovakia lags behind in launching of the electronization of health care, the so-called eHealth, which introduces electronic communication between doctors, hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies.

"We're in the final testing phase. After the successful completion of tests, a trial run is expected this year, to be followed with the process of connecting individual health care providers to the National Health Information System," stressed National Center of Health Information director Lubos Cerny. The eHealth project in Slovakia has cost 47 million euros (USD 52 million) and the trial run is slated to be launched later in 2015.

Health care in Slovakia is financed by health insurance, which is obligatory and shall be paid by every citizen of the country. Medical insurance for children, the disabled and women on maternity leave is paid by the state.

Two private health insurers operate in Slovakia alongside the state system: Dovera, controlled by Slovak-Czech private equity group Penta Investments, and Union, a unit of Dutch insurer Achmea. They cover some 1.8 million people among a population of 5.4 million.

Employers must register their employees with one of the health insurance funds when a new employee starts work. Employees pay 4 percent of their basic income into the fund. Self-employed citizens must pay the full 14 percent contribution. The minimum wage for healthcare contributions is 380 euros (USD 420).

Most medical services in Slovakia are free of charge for those who qualify, but some services are only subsidized and citizens must pay part of the cost. Co-payments exist for some prescription drugs, some dental treatment and medical devices. Non-essential treatments like cosmetic surgery, treatment abroad and acupuncture are excluded from cover. (PNA/Xinhua)



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