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Gov't pledges to tackle unequal access in health care

Published : 18 Jan 2020, 01:04

  DF News Desk

Photo Source: Ministry of family affairs and social services.

The government on Friday pledged to tackle unequal access in health care in its health reform, reported news agency Xinhua.

Krista Kiuru, minister of family affairs and social services, told a press conference that the government wants to "restore the confidence in the ability of the public primary health care to meet the needs of the people".

The reform will require changes in 100 laws. Kiuru said all the bills should be in parliament by the end of this year to ensure the package is enacted before the 2023 elections.

Kiuru also announced an additional 200 million euro funding for the municipalities to improve the health care accessibility.

The aims of the reform is to secure equal and high-quality social and health services to all Finns, improve the availability and reachability of the services, to reduce the differences in wellbeing and health, to secure the availability of professionally qualified labor to social and health services, to respond to the challenges caused by aging (population) and declining birthrate and to restrict the growth of costs. 

In its policy declaration, the government said it will investigate the possibilities of dissolving "the multi-channel financing" of current health care system. It refers to the fact that taxpayers' money is currently channelled both to the public primary care as well as into the employment-based care.

The equality problem in Finnish primary care is based on the existence of two parallel primary health care systems, with vastly different service abilities. Some 2 million Finns have access to employment-based health care funded jointly by the public Social Insurance Institution Kela and the employers.

But the rest use public health centers where waiting times to see a doctor may be up to three months. When retiring, people have to switch to the public health centers, where the decline in quality has been a shock to many people.

Patient organizations and media last year raised the issue that the long waiting times in the public health centers have caused delays in despatching to specialist care in hospitals. The delay has often been fatal to cancer patients, for example.