The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the surface health system weaknesses in many European countries. Many of them were facing significant challenges that were evident even before the pandemic.
One indicator that is often used to highlight the reasons why EU citizens are not adequately covered by the existing healthcare system is the Eurostat ‘Self-reported Unmet Needs for Health Care Index’. This Index presents individuals’ assessment of the reasons that prevent them from meeting a health care need. Possible answers include “Financial reasons”, “Long waiting list”, “Long distance from a public health center” and other reasons. The results of the Index for the year 2018 are presented in the graph.
Regarding the “financial reasons” for the non-fulfillment of healthcare needs, Greece comes first in the relevant ranking with 8.3% of respondents answering that they have not met a healthcare need due to financial reasons. The EU average for this index is only 1.1%, while second in the ranking comes Latvia with 4.2% of the population declaring unmet healthcare needs due to economic reasons. Regarding the reasons for non-fulfillment due to long wait, only 0.3% answered positively in Greece, a percentage that is lower than the European average (0.9%). Estonia leads this index with 15% of respondents stating that there is an unmet need due to a long waiting list for medical care. Finally, only 0.1% of respondents in Greece show unfulfilled healthcare needs due to travel difficulties due to distance, a percentage that is in line with the European average.
The research for the Self-reported Unmet Needs for Health Care Index helps us to identify the weak spots of the Greek health system in comparison with those of other European countries. The research shows that the problems that Greeks face regarding unmet healthcare needs are primarily financial, and to a much lesser degree, emerge from long waiting lists or the need to travel far in order to have access to medical care.