Hospital bed

Private healthcare spending as a proportion of total health spending in Malta was twice the EU average in 2018, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report, part of a series of country profiles on the state of health in the EU, indicates that out-of-pocket spending represented 34.3 per cent per cent of overall health expenditure, which was the fourth highest in the EU.

It found that while across the EU, Government and compulsory schemes accounted for 79.7 per cent of healthcare spending, in Malta this figure was 63.5 per cent.

As a proportion of final household spending, out-of-pocket spending on health represented 5.5 per cent of consumption, which is approximately 80 per cent higher than the EU average of 3.1 per cent.

Spending on outpatient procedures accounted for the largest share of out-of-pocket spending, which in turn was driven by a substantial proportion of the population opting to purchase private primary and outpatient specialist care services.

The reasons for this, as cited by the report, are either longstanding socioeconomic reasons, where high-income individuals traditionally use private practitioners, or the desire to circumvent “long waiting lists for some specialties.”

Another notable trend locally is that voluntary health insurance seems to be less popular locally, accounting for only 2.2 per cent of health spending in Malta, compared to five per cent in the EU.

The report also concluded that while Malta’s overall spending on health has increased significantly in the years prior to the pandemic, the country’s strong economic performance has seen total gross domestic product increase, resulting in an overall slight decline in total health spending as a proportion of gross domestic product.

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