Romanian health care reform: which way forward?

Romania made headlines last year with fires in hospitals. Now the government is planning reforms. It is seeking to have new state-run hospitals built, whereby a new, independent agency is to be responsible for them. At the same time, private healthcare facilities are to be able to charge more money to the public health insurance system. Commentators believe that neither proposal makes sense.

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Newsweek România (RO) /

Better off without the state

In Newsweek Romania, senior editor Mircea Marian argues that planning new state hospitals is the wrong approach:

“I do not believe that we can come to grips with the problems of a bloated state that spends 10 percent of the GDP on state workers' salaries by increasing bureaucracy and government spending. I do not believe in the utopia of hiring new, untarnished, incorruptible people for public service who can properly manage budgets running to the billions. ... It would be a good thing to abandon the utopia of building state-run mega-hospitals and to leave this problem to the private sector: it will build them faster, better and much cheaper.”

Libertatea (RO) /

Privatisation hurts patients in the end

Libertatea warns that public hospitals could die a slow death:

“People who can't afford co-payment will be left with only one alternative - illness or even death. After all, the option to go to a public hospital will no longer exist. The public hospitals, some of which are already chronically underfunded, will get even less money because the insurance companies will be paying more to the private ones. ... Slowly but surely it has become practically impossible to get lab tests for free in the public system since the state started allowing the insured to have tests in the private system paid for by the public health insurance system. Three years ago, 80 percent of all funds for medical laboratories were already going to private service providers.”