Estonia's healthcare expenses grew 14.5 percent on year to total €1.74 billion in 2018.
Public sector expenses, including the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa), central government and local governments, increased 13 percent to €1.1 billion, while people's personal spending on healthcare increased 19 percent, the National Institute for Health Development (TAI) said.
Household expenditures grew more quickly than public sector spending, although the public sector's contribution to the absolute growth of healthcare expenses was greater. The public sector's share in healthcare spending increased €147 million this year; household spending, meanwhile, grew €68 million.
The share of households' own contribution to healthcare expenses increased approximately 1 percent in 2018, increasing to 24.5 percent over the year, approaching a critical limit the exceeding of which may result in difficulties in paying for medical care, dental care, medicinal products and other vital goods and services.
The share of people's own contributions to healthcare expenditures in Estonia has remained relatively stable over the last ten years. However, it is significantly higher than the 15 percent recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is also higher than the average of OECD countries, which was 21 percent as of 2017.
When interpreting the data, it is important to pay attention to the change int he calculation of healthcare expenditures beginning in 2018, when Haigekassa's revenue base was expanded and some services financed from the state budget were transferred to Haigekassa's budget.
The calculation of expenses concerning social welfare services changed as well. This had the greatest impact on the growth of households' own contributions to nursing care services, as new services were included for which expenses made had not previously been included.
Taking into account the impact of the consumer price index (CPI), the real growth of health expenditures in 2018 was 5.4 percent, with growth accelerating by 3.8 percentage points on year.
The share of healthcare expenses in gross domestic product (GDP) increased to 6.7 percent in 2018, which is one of the lowest indicators among EU member states. In 2017, the EU average share of healthcare expenses was 9.6 percent, while the share of Estonian healthcare expenses was 6.4 percent of GDP.
Editor: Aili Vahtla