[Excerpt] This report is the first output of Eurofound’s research project on the impacts of the recent financial and economic crisis on access to publicly financed healthcare services in the EU. It aims to provide an overview of context and developments, setting the scene for the ongoing research project. A final overview report, incorporating findings from various country studies, will be published in 2014.
Following a description of the policy context, this report goes on to explore how the crisis has impacted demand for and supply of healthcare services. It characterises different dimensions of access and discusses how the crisis may have impacted on barriers to access. It highlights groups that have traditionally been in vulnerable situations with regard to access, as well as those that may have been particularly affected by the crisis. Examples of past initiatives that have sought to enhance access to healthcare are identified. The final section presents how this research project aims to improve understanding of the impacts of the crisis on access to healthcare and of the ways in which access may be maintained.
This report takes a broad perspective on access to healthcare services, referring to different understandings of access and various indicators. It draws on a review of the literature and primary data analysis. One key indicator concerns people’s perceptions of difficulties they face in accessing a doctor; in this regard, data are analysed from Eurofound’s 2007 and 2011 European Quality of Life Surveys (EQLS). A second key indicator concerns people’s perceptions of not having received medical care when they felt they needed it. Here, the main source of data is the ‘EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions’ (EU-SILC). These indicators are used to explore how access has changed since the onset of the crisis in autumn 2007. Other perspectives on access are also discussed, including for example legal entitlements and views on appropriate care provision by service providers. Sources of data include complaints to the Ombudsman and surveys of general practitioners (GPs).
The forthcoming overview report will expand on such sources, and will include more in-depth information from studies of specific countries.