17 Dec 2012

Performance of Long-Term Care Systems in Europe

Esther Mot / Anikó Bíró

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The evaluation of long-term care (LTC) systems carried out in Work Package 7 of the ANCIEN project shows which performance criteria are important and – based on the available information – how European countries score on those criteria. This paper summarises the results and discusses the policy implications. An overall evaluation was carried out for four representative countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland. Of the four countries, the Dutch system has the highest scores on quality of life of LTC users, quality of care and equity of the LTC system, and it performs the second-best after Poland in terms of the total burden of care (consisting of the financial burden and the burden of informal caregiving). The German system has somewhat lower scores than the Dutch on all four dimensions. The Polish system excels in having a low total burden of care, but it scores the lowest on quality of care and equity. The Spanish system has few extreme scores. Some important lessons are the following. The performance of a LTC system is a complex concept where many dimensions have to be included. Specifically, the impact of informal caregiving on the caregivers and on society should not be forgotten. The role of the state in funding and organising LTC versus individual responsibilities is one of the most important differences among countries. Choices concerning private funding and the role of informal care have a large effect not only on the public expenditures but also on the fairness of the system. International research into the relative preferences for the different performance criteria could produce a sound basis for the weights used in the overall evaluation.

Esther Mot is senior researcher in the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB). Anikó Bíró is a Lecturer in the School of Economics, The University of Edinburgh.