Health care reforms and the crisis

The OSE was awarded a contract with the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), in order to conduct research on health care reforms undertaken during the Great Recession. In a scenario of increasing budget constraints, the health sector has become an attractive target for policymakers seeking to rein in social spending, not least due to its size and potential for efficiency gains. Whereas the economic policy conditionalities imposed by the Troika on countries such as Greece and Portugal included detailed instructions for health system reform, other governance tools able to reach across EU Member States (e.g. CSRs) have also become more widespread and detailed in their requests. Cuts to public spending on health may however come at a time when more resources are required, in order to absorb the consequences of the crisis on citizens and workers.

The present project aims to develop a critical assessment of the reforms undertaken over the last 5 years in a representative selection of EU health systems. It asks what are the main recent trends in the reform of health systems in the EU; and what changing role the state, society, and the market play in their governance, provision, and regulation. Thematically, the focus is on the Great Recession and on supranational governance actors/instruments as elements able to foster and shape domestic reform processes otherwise both unpopular and unlikely. Finally, the project also addresses the overall outcome of the reforms in terms of convergence/divergence among different European health models. The final report is due in April 2014. 

The OSE researchers involved in this project are Furio Stamati and Rita Baeten