In Brief

Czech Republic & Slovakia: CEE’s Biggest Public Healthcare Spenders

The Czech Republic and Slovakia are the biggest government healthcare spenders amongst those emerging European countries which are members of the EU. Both nations allocated 7.4 per cent of GDP to healthcare in 2016. The lowest spenders on healthcare were Latvia (3.7 per cent) and Romania (4 per cent), although both spent substantially more than Cyprus (2.6 per cent), which does not possess a public healthcare system.

The numbers, released by the European Unions statistics department Eurostat on March 9, confirm the findings of Johan Hjertqvist, founder and president of the Health Consumer Powerhouse, which publishes an annual report on access to healthcare. Earlier this year he said that Slovakia has radically improved access to treatment, making it emerging Europe’s highest-rated public healthcare system.

Throughout the EU, health expenditure remained the second largest item of general government expenditure after social protection. In 2016 in the EU-28, total expenditure of general governments on health amounted to 7.1 per cent of GDP. In the nine emerging Europe countries included in Eurostat’s figures, the average GDP spend on public healthcare is much lower, at 5.62 per cent.

In the field of education, emerging Europe’s best performer is Estonia (5.9 per cent of GDP). Bulgaria spends the least, just 3.4 per cent. Taking social protection and public services as a whole, Croatia is the highest spender in the region, at 47.1 per cent, closely followed by Hungary at 46.7 per cent. Both countries spend more than the EU average of 46.3 per cent. Romania is the region’s laggard, spending just 34 per cent of GDP on social protection.