Bengoa: “Some have opted for health cuts, but we have decided to transform the model. More can be done with less”
The Basque Government's Minister for Health and Consumers called on the Provincial Councils to conduct a "serious" analysis of implementing the so-called "health cent" (centimo sanitario - a tax on fuel to fund health care)
Given the demographic changes and the "epidemic" caused by the rise in chronic diseases, the current health care model in developed countries is unsustainable, pointed out the Basque Government Minister for Health and Consumers, Rafael Bengoa, during the Basque Tribune of the European Forum. "One can react to this challenge in different ways". In Spain, some have opted for cuts and we have decided to transform," he stressed referring to the far-reaching reorganisation of the system undertaken throughout this term in office, and he then went on to recall some of its main pillars. Taking into account that demand is expected to increase by 100% while funding will only barely rise by 10% in developed countries over the coming decade, the solution, explained the Minister, involves "changing the care model and improving productivity" and finding solutions for the "huge shortfalls" of the current structures.
The entry into the system of a further 8,500 chronic patients per year, added Bengoa, has been "the greatest stress test of health care and the system in the history of the Osakidetza (Basque Health Care System). "The system has not only had to remain afloat, but we have had to go even further. When the Basque Premier says that we have done more with less, we are the living proof. Despite that demand, we have more breast cancer and colon cancer programmes, the best waiting list times in the country, more prevention, an ambitious public sector recruitment programme and the consumer division has been restructured," stressed the Minister.
With respect to the current debate regarding the introduction of the so-called "health cent", Bengoa called on the Provincial Councils to conduct a "series" analysis of the tax to improve the situation of the public coffers given the increased health spending, which accounts for a third of the Basque Government's resources.
The human body may fail in 13,500 different way and there is a type of treatment for all of them, added Bengoa to remind his audience of the degree of complexity involved in providing health care for the whole Basque Autonomous Community. "There is not industry that has to provide 13,500 service lines 24 hours a day. Which explains why we have to discuss its complexity when speaking about the health care sector," he stressed.
Bengoa also warned that an abrupt cutback on health spending may end up harming both the health of the patients and the economic structure of the sector. The Chair of the Corporación Mondragón General Board, José María Aldecoa, who introduced the Minister in the European Forum, stressed that 20% of spending is health related worldwide and that the sector is the most active, along with information technology, in terms of spending on research and development.