Lithuania's health system provides valuable lessons

As Lithuania is taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from July 1st, we are publishing a new HiT (Health Systems in Transition) review on the country's health system. Being one of the countries that was hit hardest by the economic crisis in 2008, with a fall in GDP of 15% in 2009 and a significant increase of unemployment and government debt, this review may provide interesting lessons as to what can be the policy responses to address them. In addition to public spending cuts, Lithuania used the crisis as a lever to reduce pharmaceutical prices and applied counter-cyclical contribution policies (ensuring coverage for the economically inactive population) to weather the crisis. Yet the future impact of these cuts on health status and on the health system's performance remains a cause for concern.