NIHD: Estonia's health expenditure per person highest in Baltics

Nurses transporting a patient in a hospital. Photo is illustrative.
Nurses transporting a patient in a hospital. Photo is illustrative. Source: (Priit Mürk/Scanpix)

Estonia's healthcare costs per person are the highest in the Baltics, while the most doctors per 10,000 residents are employed in Lithuania, figures from the National Institute for Health Development (NIHD) show.

Healthcare costs per person in the Baltics were highest in Estonia, exceeding the €1,000 margin in 2015. In addition, the life expectancy of Estonian residents exceeded that of Latvians and Lithuanians, according to data in an NIHD overview published on Tuesday titled "Health in the Baltic Countries 2015."

Although life expectancy has increased in all three Baltic countries in recent years, it nonetheless remains significantly below the EU average, which is 77.9 years for men and 83.3 years for women. Latvian and Lithuanian men have the lowest life expectancy in the EU, while Estonian men, with a life expectancy of 73.2 years, rank seventh from the bottom in the EU. Estonian women's life expectancy is likewise higher than those of women in Latvia and Lithuania, but nonetheless comes in one year below the EU average.

Many people in the Baltics die due to injuries or other external reasons. "The number of suicides and traffic deaths has significantly decreased in the past 15-20 years," said NIHD Health Statistics Department analyst Riina Tilk. "Nevertheless, alongside circulatory system diseases and malignant tumors, deaths caused by injuries or other external reasons still remain the third main cause of death."

The number of new tuberculosis (TB) cases in the last ten years had decreased in Estonia and Latvia by approximately one half and Lithuania by one third. The continued problem, however, is the great number of multidrug-resistant cases of TB both among new and retreatment cases. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes all three Baltic countries among dangerous countries with a continued high risk of TB in the European region.

The spread of HIV is of particularly high concern in Estonia and Latvia. In 2015, Estonia saw the most registrations of new HIV cases per person in Europe, totaling 20.5 cases per 100,000 residents, while the highest number of AIDS cases, 6.7 cases per 100,000 residents, was recorded in Latvia. Lithuania also saw new HIV cases increase by one half compared to 2005 — to 5.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Health expenditure to GDP ratios among lowest in EU

Larger reforms of hospital networks took place in all three Baltic countries from 2002-2012. Since then, more changes have taken place in the statistics of hospital beds and their use. There has been an increase in the number of nursing care beds and a decrease in curative care beds. Comparing 2005 and 2015 figures, the number of day care cases in hospitals had doubled in Estonia, tripled in Lithuania and increased fivefold in Latvia. Additionally, there was an increase in the number of ambulatory admissions — of 30 percent in Lithuania, 11 percent in Latvia and one percent in Estonia.

As of 2015, Lithuania employed 38 doctors per 10,000 people, while Estonia and Latvia followed with respectively 31 and 30 doctors per 10,000 people. Doctors in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania averaged respectively 53, 54 and 49 years in age.

The shares of the three Baltics' GDPs dedicated to health expenditures were among the lowest in Europe: in 2015, the share was 6.5 percent in Estonia and Lithuania and 5.5 percent in Latvia according to 2014 data. The average health expenditure per person was the highest in Estonia — €1,004, compared to Lithuania's €837 and Latvia's €650. The majority of this expenditure was spent on curative care, which in Estonia accounted for 56 percent, Lithuania 49 percent and Latvia 48 percent of all healthcare-related costs.

"Health in the Baltic Countries 2015," a compendium published by the Health Statistics Department of the NIHD and health statisticians from Latvia and Lithuania, provides an overview of the demographic and socioeconomic indicators of the three Baltic countries, people's health behavior and reproductive health, mortality and morbidity rates, the use of healthcare services and health expenditures in 2015. Many of the comparisons were provided with a wider context by mean of the presentation of European average indicators, and more important changes were also analyzed across a longer time period.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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