Out-of-Pocket Payments of Patients to be Lowered Skip to content

Out-of-Pocket Payments of Patients to be Lowered

By Ragnar Tómas

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir
Photo: Golli.

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir has introduced an ISK 3.5 billion ($28.6 million / €25.8 million) plan to lower the out-of-pocket healthcare payments of patients in Iceland, Vísir reports. The plan is to reduce the payment participation of patients so that payments account for less than 15% of current spending on health. 

Emulating the Nordic Countries

In a press conference yesterday, Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir introduced plans to lower the payment participation of patients in Iceland.

“First of all, because that’s what patients in the Nordic countries pay, and we want to emulate the Nordic system. Furthermore, the World Health Organisation has identified that figure as a kind of threshold of pain; when out-of-pocket payments account for more than 15% of spending on health, patients begin to forgo healthcare services for economic reasons,” Svandís stated. 

A higher percentage of patients in Iceland has had to forgo medical service for financial reasons compared to the other Nordic countries, especially in terms of dental healthcare.

In 2016, 8% of Icelanders reported that they could not afford dental care. Among the lowest-income bracket that number was almost 15%. In the other Nordic countries, the figures are closer to 5-10%. 

Increased Subsidies

The Minister of Health plans on increasing dental subsidies to pensioners from 50% to 75%. Pharmaceutical subsidies and subsidies for specified assistive technology will also be increased. Rules regarding travel costs will be loosened.

Facility fees at healthcare centres will also be lowered from ISK 1,200 ($9.80 / €8.90) to ISK 700 ($5.70 / €5.20) as of January 1, 2020. The fees will be completely abolished as of January 1, 2021. 

In an interview with Vísir, Óskar Reykdalsson, CEO of the Healthcare Clinic in the Greater Reykjavík Area, stated that the new legislation would guarantee everyone primary healthcare regardless of income. 

“Those of us who interact with patients know that some of them forgo tests or visits to the clinic due to financial reasons. The abolition of facility fees means that this will no longer be the case,” Óskar stated.

Article updated 18:22

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