New HiT report describes impact of financial crisis on health services in Estonia

Ministry of Social Affairs, Estonia

A newly released health system review for Estonia, produced as part of the "Health systems in transition" (HiT) series, presents the evolution of the health system since 2008, when the previous HiT was published. It describes Estonia's response to the 2008 financial crisis, which included a tough austerity package with cuts in benefits and prices, increased cost sharing for certain services, extended waiting times, and a reduction in specialized care.

Authors of the new health system review for Estonia launched their report together with the Minister of Social Affairs of Estonia, Taavi Rõivas, and the Director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, Josep Figueras, on 18 October 2013 in Tallinn, Estonia. The launch took place during a high-level meeting on "Health systems for health and wealth in the context of Health 2020" (17-18 October), where delegations from WHO/Europe Member States took stock of experiences in implementing the 2008 Tallinn Charter as well as identified key directions for health systems strengthening.

The 2013 health system review on Estonia was developed by country experts from the Ministry of Social Affairs, Estonian Health Insurance Fund, University of Tartu and the WHO Country Office in Estonia in collaboration with the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.

Looking beyond the crisis

Pre-crisis challenges that can now move back into focus include:

  • ensuring sustainable health financing;
  • guaranteeing a sufficient level of human resources;
  • prioritizing patient-centred health care;
  • integrating health and social care services;
  • implementing intersectoral action;
  • safeguarding access to health care for lower socioeconomic groups;
  • improving evaluation and monitoring;
  • reducing high rates of smoking and alcohol consumption; and 
  • reversing the trend toward increasing obesity rates.

The overview of the Estonian health system is part of a series of HiT country profiles, covering the entire European region as well as key Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries outside Europe.