Public health spending drops 'for first time in 20 years'

More and more Italians 'think health care is a luxury'

(ANSA) - Milan, November 24 - Public health spending in Italy dropped in 2013 for the first time in 20 years, a joint study by Bocconi University's Research Center on Public Health Management (CERGAS) and Bayer pharmaceuticals showed Monday.
    Public health spending dropped by 1.2% in 2013 over the previous year, falling from 7.3% to 7.2% of GDP in the same period, the study said. The public health budget deficit fell to about 1% of current spending, with a forecast surplus of 518 million euros in 2012 and of 811 million euros in 2013, according to the study.
    The hard part, researchers said, will be reorganizing services in line with "emerging epidemiology".
    Local public health providers "have made a minor miracle," the study said.
    "They balanced their budgets, kept spending even for five years, and maintained quality of service in spite of an aging population, deteriorating epidemiology, new technologies and a rise in poverty".
    On the down side, reining in spending has meant that retiring staff are not being replaced - causing staff levels to drop 1.5% a year over the past three years - wages have been frozen, and many services being contracted out to third parties, such as cooperatives.
    The net result, the study showed, is that Italians have begun treating health care as a luxury.
    "Decreased public spending has not been replaced with increased private spending, which has dropped 1.5% in 2012 and by 5.3% in 2013," the study said.
   

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