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Arch Hellen Med, 32(5), September-October 2015, 546-555


Health and social protection expenditure in Greece and the EU-member states

V. Chalkia,1 A. Varaklioti2
1Department of Health Management, Hellenic Open University, Thessaloniki,
2Transfusion Center, "Laiko" General Hospital, Athens; Department of Health Management, Hellenic Open University, Patras, Greece

Financial stress and subsequent fiscal austerity policies have had a widespread negative impact in the welfare states, with shrinkage of social protection expenses. The recording of total social protection expenditure is of critical importance for monitoring, comparison and coordination of social policies between countries. The European System of integrated Social Protection Statistics (ESSPROS) is an instrument for the statistical observation of social protection schemes in the European Union (EU). Analysis of total social protection and health expenditure in Greece and comparison with the other EU countries over the decade 2002–2012 demonstrated that Luxemburg is the country with the highest expenditure on social protection. In contrast, the countries of the European south presented the lowest expenditure on social protection and health. Greece, together with the rest of the southern Europe countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy), ranks among the lowest, in both social protection and health expenditure among the EU-15 countries. In 2009, Greece ranked first among the EU-15 countries in pharmaceutical expenditure, which constitutes a significant part of health expenses. Since 2009, however, pharmaceutical expenditure in Greece has been gradually decreasing, whereas other countries, such as Germany and Belgium, showed an increase in 2012. According to the international social policy classification, Greece belongs to the Mediterranean or the South-European welfare state model. Since 2009, expenditure on both social protection and health has been decreasing continuously, in response to external pressure for fiscal adjustment. Pharmaceutical expenditure was nevertheless very high in Greece compared to the rest of the EU-15, despite the decreased health expenses per capita, which has led to the design of a pharmaceutical policy aimed at reducing costs.

Key words: ESSPROS, Health expenditure, Pharmaceutical expenditure, Social policy, Social protection.

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