Croatian Healthcare System on Life Support

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Croats die mostly as a result of smoking, alcohol and obesity.

Croatian healthcare system’s debt at the end of last year amounted to 1.098 billion euros, Croatia is near the bottom of the rankings regarding the healthcare spending per capita (1,241 euros) and the GDP allocation for the healthcare system (7.4 percent), while the future is financially compromised. These are the main conclusions from the assessment of Croatia’s healthcare system issued by the European Commission, which was presented yesterday in Brussels, reports Večernji List on November 24, 2017.

The Commission writes that the reason for concern is the issue of the sustainability of the healthcare financing system, with further financial pressure expected in the future, adding that at present just one-third of citizens pay full healthcare contributions. Because of all this, the report explicitly states that Croatian healthcare system needs reforms and that the Health Ministry must implement them.

“The arguments put forward by the European Commission are objective parameters and facts that need to be carefully analysed. We must act in a positive way to improve the situation in the system,” said Health Minister Milan Kujundžić.

The Commission noted that there is no continuity in reforms and therefore many plans and changes in the system start and end with the term of each new minister. An example is the reform of emergency medicine units, which was planned by former Health Minister Dario Nakić and which was supposed to lessen the burden on hospitals.

“The government has dropped a series of structural reforms aimed at increasing the fiscal sustainability of the health system, which included an increase in the price of basic health insurance paid to the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO) and in the maximum amount of patient co-payments. Plans to reform the system of ‘supplementary insurance’ or to introduce new rules for emergency medical services have also been discontinued. The long-awaited reorganisation of the hospital system has not advanced, and the hospital funding reform has been halted,” claims the report.

Furthermore, the Commission warns that Croatia does not have enough doctors and nurses, especially in rural areas and on islands, while at the same time the system has “too many other health professionals.”

As far as the health of the nation is concerned, Croatia’s main problems are smoking, alcohol and obesity, which are risk factors for a number of diseases, while at the same time the prevention within the healthcare system is not developed enough. Therefore, Croatia is among the countries with the highest number of deaths which could be prevented by medical interventions, and the average life expectancy is three years shorter than the EU average. Ischemic heart diseases, stroke, other heart diseases, lung cancer and colon cancer, are the five major causes of death in Croatia. According to the Commission, “mortality rates for lung, breast and colon cancer in Croatia are among the highest in the EU.”

It is also noted that smoking is a significant public health problem. The latest data suggest that a quarter of adult Croatian citizens smoke daily, which is above the EU average of 21 percent, while among 15-year-olds there is 23 percent of regular smokers, with Bulgaria being the only country with worse results.

Translated from Večernji List.


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