Guaranteeing access to high-quality health care is a key objective of social protection systems in EU countries – and it represents the second largest share of social expenditure after pensions. Health care systems face the challenge of ageing populations and increasing needs, which can also result from non-demographic factors, such as the emergence of new (often expensive) treatments.
In spite of near-universal coverage of health insurance or national health systems, there are still major health inequalities across countries and regions, as well as across socio-economic groups.
The European Pillar of Social Rights stresses the right to timely access to affordable, preventive and curative health care of good quality (Principle 16).
The EU promotes cooperation among EU countries in this area through the open method of coordination, focusing in particular on access, quality and sustainability.