“Health at a Glance” is a series of analysis reports developed by the European Commission with the OECD and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. The reports are designed to assist EU countries deal with existing challenges. By November 2017, the aim is to have country-specific health profiles for all 28 EU Member States showing each one’s particular characteristics and challenges.
The requirements set out in the report are based on the realisation that there are sometimes significant differences between people’s state of health within Europe. People with a higher education level and income have a higher life expectancy than members of disadvantaged groups. On the one hand, this is attributable to the fact that they are exposed to differing health risks; on the other hand, unequal access to high-quality health care also plays a role. Although the quality of healthcare within Europe has generally improved, in many countries the implementation of best practice methods for the care of acute and chronic patients could be further improved.
In the battle against health inequality, the report states that it is essential to ensure access to all health services. Whereas most EU countries have across-the-board coverage for essential healthcare services, in 2014, more than 10 percent of the population of Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania did not have access to healthcare due to a lack of health insurance. In addition to health insurance, another requirement for ensuring effective access to healthcare is having a suitable number of healthcare staff in the various geographic regions of a country. The uneven distribution of doctors has become a growing problem which must be addressed.
To ensure that health systems remain financially feasible in the future, not least because of the growing need to care for an ageing population, EU countries are recommended to improve the planning and organisation of services. This would make healthcare systems more sustainable.