Wednesday, 04. May 2011, 19:41



Executive summary

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The HiT profiles are country-based reports that provide a detailed description of a health system and of policy initiatives in progress or under development. HiTs examine different approaches to the organization, financing and delivery of health services, and the role of the main actors in health systems; describe the institutional framework, process, content and implementation of health and health care policies; and highlight challenges and areas that require more in-depth analysis.

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The Slovak health system is a system in progress. Major health reform in the period 2002–2006 introduced a new approach based on managed competition. Although large improvements have been made since the 1990s (for example in life expectancy and infant mortality), health outcomes are generally still substantially worse than the average for the EU15 but close to the other Visegrád Four countries.

Per capita health spending (in purchasing power parity [PPP]) was around half the EU15 average. A large share of these resources was absorbed by pharmaceutical spending (28% in 2008, compared to 16% in OECD countries). Some important utilization indicators signal plenty of resources in the system but may also indicate excess bed capacity and overutilization. The number of physicians and nurses per capita has been actively reduced since 2001 but remains above the average of the EU12 (i.e. the 12 countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007). An ageing workforce and professional migration may reinforce a shortage of health care workers.

People have free choice of general practitioner (GP) and specialist. Their services are provided without cost-sharing from patients, with the notable exception of dental procedures. Inpatient care and specialized ambulatory care are provided in general hospitals and specialized hospitals. Pharmaceutical expenditure per capita accounts for one-third of public expenditure on health care. Long-term care is provided by health care facilities and social care facilities.

Slovakia has a progressive system of financing health care. However, the health reforms of 2002–2006 led to an increase in the number of households that contributed more from their income and the distributive impacts were not equitable. This was mainly caused by the introduction of a reference pricing scheme for pharmaceuticals. Some key challenges remain: improving the health status of the population and the quality of care while securing the future financial sustainability of the system.