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HEALTH SYSTEM WATCH SPRING/1999: CROSS-SECTION ANALYSIS OF HEALTH SPENDING WITH SPECIAL REGARD TO TRENDS IN AUSTRIA

By Maria M Hofmarcher

Abstract

The richer a country, the higher its expenditure on health care. The increase in health spending which compared to the overall growth had taken place at a rather rapid pace experienced a worldwide slow-down during the 90s. In relation to overall economic growth and the expansion of other countries’ health care systems, Austria’s system grew below average- a fact which holds particularly true for the years between 1990 and 1997. This development may largely be due to a constant consolidation of budget, relatively high prices for private households, which, however, are possibly overestimated and still unascertained but highly probable improvements in productivity in the main fields of health care. Within our observation period of 16 years, the privat households’ expenditure reached a peak with private health spending experiencing the quickest increase. Although overestimated, these relatively high prices together with a sharply rising consumption expenditure on health care constitute an increased burden on private households. While social insurance companies in their function as bulk purchasers have had the power to reject excessive prices, private customers were charged above average during the last few years. This development has to be closely scrutinized in order to ensure public welfare and the maintenance of a social health care system in future.health economics

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