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21 Dec 2012

Performance of Long-Term Care Systems in Europe

Esther Mot / Riemer Faber / Joanna Geerts / Peter Willemé

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This report evaluates the performance of long-term care (LTC) systems in Europe, with a special emphasis on four countries that were selected in Work Package 1 of the ANCIEN project as representative of different LTC systems: Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland. Based on a performance framework, we use the following four core criteria for the evaluation: the quality of life of LTC users, the quality of care, equity of LTC systems and the total burden of LTC (consisting of the financial burden and the burden of informal caregiving). The quality of life is analysed by studying the experience of LTC users in 13 European countries, using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Older persons with limitations living at home have the highest probability of receiving help (formal or informal) in Germany and the lowest in Poland. Given that help is available, the sufficiency of the help is best ensured in Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. The indirectly observed properties of the LTC system are most favourable in France. An older person who considers all three aspects important might be best off living in Belgium or Switzerland. The horizontal and vertical equity of LTC systems are analysed for the four representative countries. The Dutch system scores highest on overall equity, followed by the German system. The Spanish and Polish systems are both less equitable than the Dutch and German systems. To show how ageing may affect the financial burden of LTC, projections until 2060 are given for LTC expenditures for the four representative countries. Under the base scenario, for all four countries the proportions of GDP spent on public and private LTC are projected to more than double between 2010 and 2060, and even treble in some cases. The projections also highlight the large differences in LTC expenditures between the four countries. The Netherlands spends by far the most on LTC. Furthermore, the report presents information for a number of European countries on quality of care, the burden of informal caregiving and other aspects of performance. The LTC systems for the four representative countries are evaluated using the four core criteria. The Dutch system has the highest scores on all four dimensions except the total burden of care, where it has the second-best score after Poland. The German system has somewhat lower scores than the Dutch on all four dimensions. The relatively large role for informal care lowers the equity of the German system. The Polish system excels in having a low total burden of care, but it scores lowest on quality of care and equity. The Spanish system has few extreme scores. Policy implications are discussed in the last chapter of this report and in the Policy Brief based on this report.

This report was edited by Esther Mot, Senior Researcher in the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), Riemer Faber, researcher at CPB, Joanna Geerts, researcher at the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB) and Peter Willemé, health economist in the Social Security Research Group at the FPB. It is accompanied by a separate document, published as ENEPRI Research Report No. 117A, containing statistical appendices.