Baltics News

Estonian Socialized Medicine Has Patients Going To ER To Get Care, Seeing Specialist OR GP Impossible

Image by LA(Phot) Stuart Hill
Estonian Personnel from the Joint Force Medical Group Treats an Exercise Casualty MOD

Estonian citizens are giving up on trying to see a doctor by waiting for an appointment and going direct to emergency rooms for routine care, as getting a meeting with a physician is becoming impossible under the Estonian socialized medical system. The Baltic nation has the largest percentage of people in the European Union who have had this problem.

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According to Eurostat data, the share of people who estimate they have not had access to a doctor due to long waiting times was 10.5 percent in Estonia in 2017, and 13.5 percent in 2016. In Poland, which placed second, the percentage stood at 4 percent. Estonia’s perceived indicator is Europe’s highest, the National Audit Office of Estonia said, citing Eurostat.

It also appeared from the audit that financing for specialized medical care does not cover people’s need for treatment in Estonia. Based on calculations by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, there have been 245,000 unfunded cases of treatment in 2018. The Health Insurance Fund said these are the cases where a person needs to see a doctor, but the Health Insurance Fund does not have the funds to cover the treatment. To compensate that need, additional 52 million euros are required, the National Audit Office said, reported The Baltic Times.

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“In outpatient treatment, waiting times are longer than permitted in a third of medical specialties,” Auditor General Janar Holm said.

“If people are unable to see a doctor within a reasonable time, their health may deteriorate, and they will turn to the place where they will receive medical care faster — oftentimes, it is the EMD,” Holm said.

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