Just got a link to this article (Thanks J.!), from the International Herald Tribune, mentioning a study of EU-and-affiliates' healthcare systems. While Austria placed first overall and Latvia placed last (which is predictably satisfying), Estonia was actually first in terms of value for money. Admittedly Estonians don't like to go to the doctor - this is where Giustino would say they just treat all illnesses with vodka and jellied meat - but it's a surprising factoid in any case.
The Estonian healthcare system is a source of much criticism among the people. Some years ago it was reformed to a Swedish model, with every person assigned to a GP that then refers them on to specialists. There's some sort of trick to the financing where supposedly the GP actually loses money by making these references, and the system has resulted in long wait times in some cases. I haven't really noticed this, as I stayed with my old doc back in Tallinn - the same pediatrician who treated me since I was born - and by the time I finally could be bothered to get a GP in Tartu, I just went to the university clinic where a team of half a dozen GPs pools resources: I get the first available time slot from any of them. Combine that with registered nurses who actually have some measure of authority, and a reasonably effective walk-in ER, and I haven't had cause to complain. To overseas readers not familiar with the state of affairs, healthcare is free in Estonia: hospitals are commercial enterprises (though subject to significant government regulation), but the bills are paid by the state insurance agency, which is financed through taxes.
Estonians like to complain about stuff, especially about public services, and there's a sort of general permeating sense of the Estonian healthcare system being complete crap. Most Estonians don't come into contact with doctors often enough to build up an opinion to the contrary. So it's a bit strange to see an authoritative source claiming that the system isn't all it's fucked up to be.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
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This is so irritating. I mean, good for Estonia, but it's so frustrating that we in the UK sink so much tax money into the NHS, poach so many staff from other countries both EU and non-EU (Asia, Africa, Philippines), and still come out so pathetic. Yet Estonia, not classified as a so-called "rich" country, and with healthcare professionals leaving for Finland et al, still does well.
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