Estonian minister: Current healthcare funding model not sustainable
Estonian Minister of Health and Labor Jevgeni Ossinovski said in the Riigikogu on Wednesday that the current system used to fund healthcare, which is based fully on labor taxes, is unsustainable in the country's current demographic situation.
According to the minister, the reason behind this situatin is that the number of people paying taxes into the system is declining, while the number of people who need the service is not, Riigikogu spokespeople reported. "On the contrary, the number of people who need long-term care is increasing," he added.
Last year and this year, the government was provided, in cooperation with Estonian and foreign experts, with a new overview of the situation as well as proposals for improving the situation, said Ossinovski. "Their simple message is that in order to guarantee medical services on the present level, healthcare needs additional funding. In the coming years, the Health Insurance Fund's reserves are enough to cover it, but after that, more money will be needed," he said, adding that the government will hopefully be discussing and making a final decision on the matter in the coming months.
"Of course, it is always possible to find ways to save money through better management," Ossinovski noted. "I would argue that Estonian healthcare has been very well managed for the entire period following the restoratin of independence [in 1991] — necessary reforms have been carried out at the right time and thus maximum effectiveness has been achieved in most places." The Estonian minister did note that there were likely more smaller things that could still be done.
Accoding to Ossinovski, the Ministry of Social Affairs is cooperating with the Estonian Health Insurance Fund in seeking ways to further reduce spending, although there were not many ways left to do so anymore.