Friday, September 29, 2023

In poor health

The future of the health sector crystallizes as the great issue of the campaign for the legislative elections on October 8. It is undeniable that Luxembourg still has a very efficient healthcare network. However, many parties, including the DP and CSV in the lead, claim that there are too many gaps, especially when it comes to patient care in rural areas. Another major problem: excessively long waiting times before getting an appointment or being examined at a medical center or emergency department.

The recommended response is to increase the number of offices and medical centers throughout the country, especially equipped with imaging devices such as MRIs, without mandatory linkage to a hospital center. However, one question remains without a real answer. Is it the infrastructure or, more importantly, the doctors and healthcare professionals that are missing to make the healthcare system even more efficient? When consulting the electoral programs, but also when following the first debates of this campaign, the means to be implemented to train and recruit more medical personnel seem to be of less interest than the promise of making new health services a reality. However, without sufficient human resources, it is unrealistic for medical centers to be established in every corner of the country. One thing is certain: without the creation of additional structures, the risk of a medical desert is imminent.

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The other aspect to take into account is the financial aspect. The PD aggressively advocates for further liberalization of the healthcare sector. At the same time, the need for centralized planning and, above all, the financing of services by health insurance is mentioned. Therefore, liberalization will not be equivalent to privatization. But at a time when deficits are mounting and reserves are declining, we must also ask where the limits are for funding additional medical services.

It is clear that the patient’s health must come first. However, we must prevent the vision of decentralization of medical services from making the entire social security system sick.

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