Policy dialogue to reduce out-of-pocket payments for health in Greece

High levels of out-of-pocket payments for health in Greece are a cause of concern for the Greek government.

Out-of-pocket payments – any payments made by individuals to health-care providers – can push people into poverty or deepen existing poverty. Where health systems fail to provide adequate financial protection, people may not have enough money to pay for health care or to meet other basic needs.

In a bid to improve financial protection and make progress towards universal health coverage by reducing out-of-pocket payments, the Greek Ministry of Health joined forces with WHO/Europe to organize a policy dialogue workshop in Athens on 16 May 2018.

The workshop aimed to identify policy options for reducing out-of-pocket payments; analyse implications for the population, service providers and other actors; and build consensus on the way forward.

Participants included representatives of the Ministry of Health, the National School of Public Health, the National Organization for Healthcare Services Provision, hospital managers, professional and patients’ rights associations and other stakeholders.

Evidence to underpin policy

Experts from the WHO Barcelona Office for Health Systems Strengthening presented regional evidence on financial protection to highlight the impact of out-of-pocket payments on households in Greece and share good practice from countries with strong financial protection. Greek experts presented additional evidence on out-of-pocket payments.

The discussion of evidence and policy options for the Greek health system that followed will contribute to a policy brief on reducing out-of-pocket payments to be produced by WHO.

This work is part of the Strengthening Capacity for Universal Coverage (SCUC2) action funded by the European Union through a grant agreement between the European Commission and WHO/Europe.

The project’s objective is to improve health and health equity in Greece, especially among those most affected by the crisis, by helping the Greek authorities move towards universal health coverage and strengthen the effectiveness and resilience of their health system.