Investment in Health a priority in the Social Investment Package
Investing in Health is a key component of the Social Investment Packageadopted on 20 February 2013 by the European Commission. It follows on from the 2013 Annual Growth Survey, which recognizes the contribution of health for a job-rich recovery.
The Investing in Health paperestablishes the role of health as integral to the Europe 2020 strategy. It strengthens the link between EU health policies and national health system reforms. Health is a value in itself. It is also a precondition for economic prosperity. Health spending is 'growth friendly' expenditure.
The official title of the package is "Towards Social Investment for Growth and Cohesion" and it aims to help the EU countries use their social and health budgets more efficiently and effectively by promoting best practices and providing guidance.
Smart investments for sustainable health systems
- EU countries are responsible for the organisation and delivery of their own health services and care. They should spend smarter, not necessarily more, to make their healthcare systems more efficient
- According to OECD, reforms in healthcare could lead to savings of, on average, 2% of GDP by 2017.
- More value for money through reforms and investments is crucial.
Efficiency gains can be made by, for example:
- Reducing unnecessary hospitalization and use of specialists.
- Strengthening primary care.
- Encouraging the use of less expensive equivalent (generic) drugs.
- Using health technology assessment to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of health technologies as a basis for decision making.
Investing in people's health
People's health status influences how much they can participate in social and work life and how productive they are in the workplace. On a larger scale, it influences the financial impact on national healthcare systems. Investments in health can support economic growth by enabling people to remain in good health and be active in the workplace for longer.
Investing in health promotion for children and young people, for instance, supports their physical and social development and ultimately equips them to play a full role in society. Another avenue is to invest in the health workforce, as the Commission suggested in an Action Plan of 2012.
Investing in reducing inequalities in health:
Despite an improvement in average levels of health across the EU for many years major health inequalities still exist both between and within EU countries. Differences in life expectancy at age 30 between people with higher education and those with basic secondary education or less exceed 10 years in many EU countries.
Avoidable diseases and deaths due to inequalities in health are a waste of human capital and must be reduced. Universal access to safe, high quality, efficient healthcare services and better cooperation between social and healthcare services, and effective action on risk factors can all help break the vicious circle of poor health/poverty/exclusion.
The Commission will continue to foster the cooperation among EU countries and efforts to improve the knowledge and evidence at EU level and will produce a report in 2013 on the implementation of its 2009 Communication on inequalities in health.
The EU Health Program, the Cohesion and Structural Funds, as well as the Research and Innovation Funds (Horizon 2020) can support investment in health all across the European Union.