Healthcare spending in 2015 in Finland was equal to 9.8% of GDP. This reflects an increasing trend over the past 5 years. In absolute terms, healthcare expenditure is equal to €20.3 bn, and €3,704 per capita.
Though expenditure is in the lower ranges of the EU average expenditure (in terms of % of GDP), infant mortality, around 1.9 deaths per 1000 live births, is amongst the lowest rates worldwide. Their average life expectancy, 81.3 years old, is also amongst the highest internationally.
This is an average split of healthcare expenditure when compared to other EU nations, where most splits of public-private spending are around 75-25% (plus minus 10%).
Private healthcare services are reimbursed around 30% on average by Kela (the national health insurer), and are accordingly well-integrated into the public healthcare system.
Municipalities are in charge of providing primary care to their regions, and often contract private providers to serve in the healthcare centers. Tertiary care is also widely offered through private firms.
The occupational healthcare system is in fact privately served, and publically subsidized covering all those that are unemployed.
Unlike many other healthcare systems, Finland does not require the private provider to go through a registration process in order to be entitled to reimbursements under the national insurance provider.
Trends and characteristics of the private market
- The private sector in Finland is growing and provides mainly primary care.
- 17% of Finnish doctors work exclusively for the private sector (mostly primary care). This is twice as much as 20 years ago and continues to rise.
- The private sector is better remunerated and considered to have less work stresses, often resulting in the most experienced and more qualified practitioners moving out of the public sector to private.
- Between 3 and 4% of inpatient care is provided by the private healthcare system in areas such as physiotherapy, dentistry and occupational health services.
- Some insurers are vertically integrating and offer healthcare services such as ambulatory surgery, diagnostics and specialist consultations.
- There are 7 private hospitals, usually located in and around Finland’s main cities.
- Few patients have an additional insurance plan to supplement the Kela reimbursements.
- New initiatives are popping up in several segments such as ophthalmology, physiotherapy, clinical labs and ambulance services.
- Today public hospitals and healthcare centers subcontract to private physicians to complement their care provision capacity.
Private care providers are expanding into new business models, a few examples include:
- The step-down market, homecare and domiciliary care to meet the needs of a fast growing elderly population.
- Swedish private equity house Adelis Equity Partners has bought a majority stake in Finnish healthcare services outfit Med Group, which does everything from ambulance services to dentistry and from ophthalmology to homecare.
- Doctagon, the innovative Finnish home care service has merged its home doctor services with domiciliary care provider Kodinavux to form Stella.
SOTE healthcare reform: planning to abolish public reimbursement of private providers
SOTE constitutes one of the largest administrative and operational healthcare reforms in Finland, aiming to streamline taxation and financing, and redirect the decentralized municipal-based healthcare management to a smaller number of regional authorities. SOTE should be fully implemented come 2018 (some sources state 2019).
Amongst other initiatives and re-structuring designs, it plans to eliminate public reimbursement of private providers.
Within the context of the upcoming SOTE reform and the priorities of the new government, the private sector might be under pressure. Improved capacity, resources and equipment in the public segment might reduce the attractiveness of the private providers.
For further quantitative and qualitative information on the Finnish healthcare system and the macroeconomic climate, please look into our Business intelligence platform or order the Finland Healthcare Scan incl. Surgical Procedures Volumes (all specialisms) – product license containing volumes of 984 surgical procedures in 13 specialisms.
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