Finland has been in recession since 2012, a situation blamed on its falling competitiveness, aging population and the economic woes of its major trading partners, Russia and the European Union. The country's aging population has already sent the costs of the most expensive specialist healthcare, such as surgery, soaring, rising by 5% in 2012 alone. The proportion of over-65s is expected to reach 26% by 2030, up from 19% at present.
As Finland battles to pull itself out of three years of recession, the country has unveiled a healthcare shake-up intended to cut the ballooning costs of treating a rapidly aging population.
Chief architects, Tuomas Poysti, said, "This is a historic and significant reform, which involves (reorganizing) over 20 billion euros ($21.5 billion) in expenses, some 250,000 employees and citizens' everyday life."
The government said that it expected the changes, the country's most significant policy shake-up in decades, to save around 3 billion euros ($3.23 billion) by 2029. The government said, "The reforms would enable it to reduce the annual rise in healthcare costs from the current 2.4% to 0.9%. The changes involve merging 200 administrative social and healthcare regions into just 15."
Many details of the new system remain to be hammered out and the consequences for Finns are not yet known. The government revealed that full-scale, around-the-clock emergency services would in future be available at only 12 hospitals compared to the current 19.
The reorganization involves new regional polls to elect politicians to run the new administrative regions, tax reforms and more freedom for Finns to choose between public, private and non-profit healthcare providers.