The Healthcare System In Your Country
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Romania has a tax-funded universal healthcare system. Access to healthcare is granted by the Constitution. There is a mandatory payrolltax that is used to provide coverage to the entire population. The state finances both primary and specialist healthcare.
Romania’s healthcare consistently ranks as the European Union’s worst, according to the Euro Health Consumer Index. The country has the lowest medical expenses per capita.
Although health expenditure has steadily increased in recent years, if the trend for 2014-2018 continues, it is estimated that in 2021 the country will spend 727 €/person on health, less than one third of the EU average of 3,223 € (that is 5.5 % of GDP compared to the EU average of 9.7%).
Every citizen is entitled to free medical procedures as established by a physician if they can present a health card proving they have paid insurance. Citizens of the EU, as well as Romanian citizens without paid insurance have the right to free emergency medical assistance.
In major urban areas, medical facilities are well-equipped, and world-class private healthcare is also available. In rural areas and smaller towns, however, healthcare is sub-standard.
A shortage of medical staff also poses great problems. Many medics and nurses have decided to go and work in Western European countries due to the low wages in Romania and the attractive working conditions there. Medical wages have recently been growing much quicker than the national average in Romania, partly to address that problem, and also to eradicate the custom of healthcare staff accepting out-of-pocket payments from patients.
There are hopes that the increased wages will entice skilled doctors to stay in the country. It will be a long process to correct the flaws of system. However, progress is possible if the government and the private sector work together toward reform.
Since 2019 co-payments are permitted, and people with health insurance are allowed to pay a personal contribution to cover the difference between the tariffs for medical services charged by private providers and the fees charged from the budget of the National Social Health Insurance Fund. Still, the costs of private medical services exceed the allowance provided by the national social health insurance fund by far.
The insufficient number of doctors and other health professionals inevitably creates longer wait lines, leading to patients turning to “alternative solutions.” Some rely on out-of-pocket, non-official payments to doctors and nurses to secure examinations and various appointments and avoid waiting for weeks or even months.
The amounts that one would pay this way, however, could partly or fully finance a private health insurance plan that offers, among others, a free choice of medical provider, premium services, and modern equipment. Services offered by private providers have risen both in absolute figures and in popularity.
Taking out private insurance is an ethical and responsible answer to all the shortcomings of public healthcare, and Romanians are increasingly opting for this.