The Consortium for Applied Economic Research in Healthcare (CREA Sanità) published its 15th Annual Healthcare Report on December 11, 2019 entitled, “The Return of the National Healthcare Policy” and then presented it to the Chamber of Deputies. The report emphasizes the importance of the government pursuing national health policies that are not exclusively targeted at fixing the budget, as these strategies have proved unsuccessful in the past.
The gap between Italy and western European countries regarding health expenses has in fact widened: – 32% (if we consider both public and private expenses) and – 37,1% (only public expenses). It doesn’t seem that the extra 2 billion euros provided for by the Budget Law will be enough to restore the system. Assuming health expenditures do increase by 2 billion euros next year, and that private expenditures continue to rise following the trend seen in the last five years, compared to the average expenditures in other European countries, the gap of total expenditures in Italy would increase even more.
What happens with an increase in healthcare costs
According to CREA Sanità, data shows that healthcare is not only an investment in the health of citizens (the more spent on healthcare, the longer the average life expectancy), but also an economic investmentthat increases GDP growth.
This strong claim implies that welfare policies should conform to economic policies and not remain two, distinct entities. CREA greatly emphasizes this point given there does not seem to currently be much awareness in this direction.
Even when health costs do not generate improvements in life expectancy, they still generate higher quality services (through improved technology, reduction of red tape and shorter waiting lists). Investing in healthcare, thus, generates important returns. It must now be understood whether or not future healthcare policies will aim at investing in healthcare to improve the quality of services or not.
There will undoubtedly be many changes in healthcare costs in the next few years. One of the main healthcare policies planned for 2020, for example, is the abolition of the “super-ticket” for specialized outpatient healthcare that was introduced by Law Decree no. 98/2011 and then converted into Law no. 111/2011. The unjust effects the super-ticket has brought about has made its abolition necessary. Nevertheless, the cost of abolition is quite substantial, deducting a good amount from the additional resources allocated by the government.
There are so many factors to consider that it is impossible to make estimates, but we do know that a healthcare system that is close to its patients is not only a more humanistic decision, but also economically advantageous. We hope the next few years move in this direction.
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