The Austrian health care system is one of the most expensive in the world, but it also finances the most comprehensive catalogue of services on the market. This is one of the key messages from the study "Efficiency Review of Austria’s Social Insurance and Healthcare System". The results were presented by the London School of Economics in Brussels in January 2018. In addition to the review and a comparison at international level, a range of policy options have been developed to improve efficiency and equity in the Austrian system.
Inpatient care accounts for a very high proportion of costs in Austria, with around 46% of healthcare expenditure. With a top figure in the EU of more than 250 admissions per 1,000 inhabitants per year, Austria is only just ahead of Germany. Nevertheless, this high expenditure is not reflected by increased life expectancy; Austria ranks rather lowly here. There is little to no risk-adjustment among the various insurers, which leads to disproportionate allocations.
What needs to be done?
Even though the study did an international comparison, following the blueprint of another system is not the answer. Rather, existing successes need to be expanded and there should be investment in economically important areas. As the highest proportion of expenditure, there is potential to make savings in inpatient care. This can also be done by strengthening outpatient care. In addition, the composition of the health insurance providers must also be examined more closely. For example, a decision to merge various health insurers has already been made and is currently being implemented.
In order to improve life expectancy, the study calls upon policymakers to invest in prevention. In 2014, the proportion of smokers was still 30%, putting Austria in third place in the EU. There are good examples of legislative measures having a positive effect on reducing smoking.