Health reforms in Estonia: acceptability, satisfaction and impact
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Since the early 1990s, the Estonian health sector has been undergoing a number of reforms. At the same time, a number of legislative acts have also been established, forming a new legal basis for the health system. The introduction of a social health insurance in 1992 was the first reform in the Estonian health sector reorganisation, followed by a primary health care (PHC) reform, a hospital reform and a number of public health reforms. The aim of this thesis is to analyse these health sector reforms in Estonia, focusing on the outcomes of the health system from the population’s perspective. Proceeding from this general aim, the specific objectives of the thesis are as follows: 1) To analyse the PHC reform in terms of the access to the health services and the acceptability and satisfaction with these services. 2) To analyse the health insurance reform in terms of the acceptability and satisfaction with the new system. 3) To analyse the public health reforms and their impact on the health of the population. The empirical data were gathered with the following research methods: reviews of official health statistics and population surveys in 1998, 2002 and 2005 based on face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaires. The main results can be summarised in relation to the objectives of the thesis: 1) The primary health care reform has been implemented and most of the objectives have been achieved. In general, people accept the changes in the PHC system and the satisfaction with the family doctors has increased. Access to the PHC services is good. Based on the results of a population study in 2002 and 2005, more than half of the respondents could see the family doctor on the same day they made an appointment. Almost a half of the respondents (49%) were satisfied with the access to the health services. Satisfaction with the PHC services and family doctors were found to have positive effects on satisfaction with access to health services. Although people with chronic conditions were less satisfied with the access to the health services they did not experience organisational barriers in their access to such services. 2) The health insurance reform has been implemented and a high level of financial protection has been maintained. The solidarity principle of the health insurance system guarantees access to health services for all the insured people. About half of the population is satisfied with the present system. Compared to 2002, the percentage of satisfied people has increased in 2005, while the percentage of very dissatisfied persons has decreased. The most important predictor of satisfaction with the health insurance was the satisfaction with the existing PHC system. The satisfaction with the health insurance was higher in 2002 as well as 2005 among those respondents who had visited a family doctor or a specialist or were admitted in a hospital during the last 12 months before the survey, but lower among those who had visited a dentist. A small majority preferred the solidarity principles and comprehensive financing of health service by health insurance. The attitudes regarding financing principles were related to the personal contacts with the health services. The respondents who had used the PHC or ambulance services preferred a more comprehensive financing of health services, while those who had had contacts with a specialists or dentists would prefer less comprehensive financing if the waiting lists were short. More than three quarters of the respondents were informed about their rights concerning the access to the health services. Personal contacts with family doctors and specialists had positive impact on the level of awareness. 3) Some progress has been made in connection with the public health reforms. A number of national programs and projects to prevent the most essential health risks have been initiated. As a result, there is some evidence of a positive impact on the health of the population – positive trends in dietary habits and decreasing infant mortality, number of abortions, and incidences of sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis. At the same time, however, the proportion of smokers and consumers of strong alcohol has not decreased. Moreover, there has been an explosive increase of new cases of HIV-infections in 2000, which is one of the most serious public health problems today. Greater progress has been achieved in the areas where health promotion and health education activities have been supported by political decisions to make a healthy choice for the population easier. However, a comprehensive national health policy and strategy is still lacking in Estonia. In public health, this is evidenced by a lack of long-term planning and understanding of the significance of intersectoral co-operation. Discussion. Up to now, the major reforms in the Estonian health system have been implemented. However, the environment is changing and the health system has to respond to these changes. The next step should therefore be to reach a public agreement about the common values of the health system and setting long-term health policy goals. To improve the effectiveness of policy implementation and reform, the importance of systematic research and evaluation should also be stressed.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Nordic School of Public Health NHV Göteborg, Sweden , 2007. , 81 p.
NHV Reports and Doctor of Public Health-Theses, ISSN 0283-1961 ; NHV Rapport 2007:1
Estonia, Health reforms, Population Health, Access to Health Services, Acceptability, Satisfaction
Medical and Health Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:norden:org:diva-3416ISBN: 978-91-85721-00-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:norden-3416DiVA: diva2:749206
2007-05-21, Nordic School of Public Health NHV, Göteborg, Sweden, 13:00 (English)
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