Iceland: health system review
AbstractThis analysis of the Icelandic health system reviews the developments in its organization and governance, health financing, health care provision, health reforms and health system performance. Life expectancy at birth is high and Icelandic men and women enjoy longer life in good health than the average European. However, Icelanders are putting on weight (more than half of adult Icelanders were overweight or obese in 2004) and total consumption of alcohol has increased considerably since 1970. The health care system is a small, state-centred, publicly funded system with universal coverage, and an integrated purchaser–provider relationship in which the state as payer is also the owner of most organizations providing health care services. The country’s centre of clinical excellence is the University Hospital, Landspitali, in the capital Reykjavik, which alone accounts for 70% of the total national budget for general hospital services. However, since 1990, the health system has become increasingly characterized by a mixed economy of care and service provision, in which the number and scope of private non-profit andprivate for-profit providers has increased. While Iceland’s health outcomes are some of the best among OECD countries, the health care system faces challenges involving the financial sustainability of the current system in the context of an ageing population, new public healthchallenges (such as obesity) and the continued impact of the country’s financial collapse in 2008. The most important challenge is to change the pattern of health care utilization to steer it away from the most expensive end of the healthservices spectrum towards more cost-efficient and effective alternatives. To a large degree, this will involve renewed attempts to prioritize primary care as the first port of call for patients, and possibly to introduce a gatekeeping function for GPs in order to moderate the use of specialist services.
World Health Organization. Regional Office for Europe, European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, Sigurgeirsdóttir, Sigurbjörg, Waagfjörð, Jónína & Maresso, Anna. (2014). Iceland: health system review. World Health Organization. Regional Office for Europe. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/152934
Health Systems in Transition, vol. 16 (6)
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