RIGA - The government decided on Aug. 30 that an extra 6.1 million lats (8.7 million euros) would be allotted for health care, which the Health Ministry plans to use to pay for outpatient care – doctors’ consultations, health care services provided by outpatient clinics, state-compensated drugs, reports LETA. A Health Ministry report presented to the government says that patients find it increasingly difficult to pay health care bills. That is why additional funding of 9 million lats is necessary every quarter to prevent illnesses and complications and to optimize patient flow in hospitals - or 36 million lats a year, which would make it possible to reduce the share of health care bills paid by patients by approximately 50 percent, says the report.
Health Ministry experts also note that health care funding in Latvia has remained one of the lowest in Europe for many years, making up 3.28 percent of gross domestic product in 2005, to 3.92 percent in 2010, while in the other European Union countries the figure is 4.6 percent to 7 percent of GDP. Health indexes for Latvia are among the worst, while the mortality rate is one of the highest in the EU.
For the health care budget to ensure equal and sustainable growth next year, 576.9 million lats is needed, or at least 4.1 percent of GDP, which would bring health care spending in Latvia close to that in Lithuania and Estonia. However, the current health care budget projection for 2012 is 414 million lats, therefore an additional 120.5 million lats will be needed for health care next year.
Of this 120.5 million lats, the Health Ministry suggests that 36 million lats be used to reduce the proportion of patients’ payments by 50 percent. Twenty-five million lats is necessary for human resources, taking into consideration social partners’ claims for competitive salaries in the health care sector and to put an end to emigration of health care workers. 19.5 million lats is needed for the development of a system of state-compensated medications, and 40 million lats for inpatient care.