Health in Latvia

The new HiT (Health Systems in Transition) health system review for Latvia has just been released. The Latvian health system, based on general tax-financed statutory health care provision, provides coverage to the entire population and access to a basic service package, but still leaves patients exposed to substantial user charges and direct payments. The financial crisis means the government faces a huge struggle to prevent deterioration of the health status. Important reforms such as moving service provision away from hospital care, and increasing provision of ambulatory care have been implemented successfully, along with a social safety net to protect the poor from the negative consequences of user charges. But the lack of financial resources poses the main challenge, and an increase in public expenditure is needed to ensure adequate funding of the health service.