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17 Dec 2007

Health and Morbidity in the New Member States

Stanisława Golinowska / Agnieszka Sowa / Roman Topór-Mądry

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This paper extracts the Policy Implications from ENEPRI Research Report Nos. 26-31, prepared under Work Package II of the AHEAD Project (Ageing, Health Status and Determinants of Health Expenditure) for the European Commission.

The analysis aims to describe processes of demographic and epidemiological changes, as well as health status self-assessment in selected Central and Eastern European countries. Countries selected for analysis represent groups characterized by similar tendencies and specific health and demographic characteristics. Estonia represents the Baltic states, Bulgaria – Balkan countries, and Slovakia represents countries of Central Europe. Poland is a specific country, with demographic and epidemiological characteristics similar to Slovakia, but much larger, with a high share of rural population. In Hungary, demographic processes related to the second demographic transition began much earlier and are still dynamic, and as such constitute a reference for other CEE countries. Analysis is presented in the context of medical service utilisation, impact on frequency and structure of services use. Special attention is given to those demographic and epidemiological changes that have direct impact on the frequency of medical service utilisation and, as such, determine the increase of healthcare costs. The ageing process and health status improvement are the main hypothetical determinants of healthcare cost increases, and thus they are presented in more detail. Additionally, changes in health behaviour – mainly in the utilisation of medical services – are discussed in the context of institutional changes in the healthcare sector.