This article discusses funding for healthcare in the Danish Regions ahead of this year’s financial negotiations with the government.
The prospect of an increasing elderly population, rising medicine costs, and new and expensive treatment options is putting pressure on the resources of a Danish healthcare system that has already fought against COVID-19 for over a year. Prior to the forthcoming financial negotiations with the government, the Danish Regions therefore believe that an extra DKK 2.1bn (~€0.28bn) is needed to run the health service.
There must also be good healthcare for patients on the other side of the coronavirus crisis. This is the clear message from the Danish Regions ahead of this year’s financial negotiations with the government.
The regions are therefore going to the upcoming negotiations with a demand of 2.1bn kroner extra to run the health service.
The Chairman of the Danish Regions, Stephanie Lose, says there is a dire need for more resources: “The corona epidemic has put tremendous pressure on the healthcare system and our employees, and at the same time it is no secret that even before the crisis there was a really strong run. So, even after COVID-19, there must be a healthcare system that can offer patients world-class treatment, it requires investments from the government now and here.”
An ageing population
The Danish population is growing, and older citizens make up an increasing proportion. This puts the healthcare system under great pressure – both because it leads to more patients, but also because older patients today need more treatment than before. Calculations from the Ministry of Finance show that the regions need at least 1bn kroner extra annually in order to maintain the status quo in the healthcare system as the ageing population increases.
However, the changing demographic is not the only pressure. The cost of medicine has for a number of years increased by approximately 400 to 500m kroner annually, and every year a large number of new improved treatments are developed that can help patients live a better life, but which are also significantly more expensive. In addition, expectations of what the health service must offer increases as society develops and prosperity increases.
A new analysis from the University of Southern Denmark shows that new treatment options, technologies, and medicines have accounted for as much as 60% of the increase in healthcare costs.
Lose said: “Everything indicates that we will get more patients through the door of the health service in the coming years, and that they – when they are through the door – expect to get the treatment that works best. Here, our healthcare system is unique, because we are constantly getting new treatment options that can benefit patients. What we can do tomorrow is not the same as yesterday, thanks in part to our strong collaboration with research environments and companies.
“If we are to succeed – and still be able to offer the latest and greatest treatment – it will require a significant economic boost on the part of the government.”
The government has promised to pay for the extraordinary costs of the regions’ coronavirus response efforts in 2021, as they did last year. However, it is crucial to keep the time after the epidemic in mind, points out Lose.
“Unfortunately, the corona epidemic is still a huge part of everyday life in the health care system: We treat covid patients in hospitals, test hundreds of thousands of Danes every day, vaccinate as quickly as possible and deal with late effects at our clinics. It all costs a lot of billions, and we have an agreement with the government that they will compensate,” she said.
“In the negotiations, we will therefore have full focus on ensuring a sustainable financial framework to solve the many other tasks that lie ahead: we must expand the health services, strengthen co-operation between the sectors, and deal with the health backlog in the form of untreated disease, poor public health, and mental dissatisfaction that may come in the wake of the corona crisis.”
In addition to the 2.1bn kroner extra for the operation of the health service, there is a need for fixed assets for investments in new technology and renovation of buildings.
The financial negotiations between the Danish Regions and the government will start on Monday, 17 May 2021.