STUDY: Over half of Estonians are satisfied with the quality of health care

Over half of the Estonian population is satisfied with the organization of health care, and compared to the previous year, people's evaluation of the availability of medical care has significantly improved, as the research by EHIF and Kantar Emor revealed. 

Nearly six out of ten Estonian residents (58%) are satisfied with the organization of health care and national health insurance. According to Rain Laane, Head of the Health Insurance Fund, this result is satisfactory. "Moreover, people over the age of 75, who use health care services the most, are more satisfied than average," Laane explained. 

Last year, 96% of all residents of Estonia were affected by healthcare in one way or another. Most often people purchased prescription drugs (78%), visited family physicians or family nurses (77%), visited a dentist (62%) and a medical specialist (51%). People who used health services last year were most satisfied with specialized medical care (89%) and primary care (87%).

Compared to the past, the evaluation given to the availability of health care has significantly improved - 52% of Estonians consider it good or rather good. According to Rain Laane, the assessment of the availability of health care was at that level last time in 2012. "Satisfaction with the availability of health care has certainly been influenced by the fact that, thanks to the additional funds, we have been able to reduce the waiting lists in the specialties of pediatrics, otolaryngology, ophthalmology and pediatric psychiatry," he added.

Satisfaction with specialized medical care service has remained steadily high, and half of the people are satisfied with the speed of admission by a specialist. Nearly half of those who visited a medical specialist were able to have an appointment within one month and nearly half of patients had to wait for an appointment longer than a month. 39% of those who were not satisfied with specialized medical care found that the availability of specialized medical care should be better.

Last year, 70% of people were able consult with their family physician or nurse within three days at the latest. "The satisfaction survey shows that people expect to be able to have a doctor’s or nurse’s appointment in the evening," explained Laane and added that, in order to improve the availability of primary care, the EHIF pays family physicians compensation for out-of-hours appointments. Last year, out-of-hours appointments amounted to about 7790 hours.

71% of people are willing to pay for health care themselves to avoid waiting lists. According to Laane, the study shows that people are willing to pay for specialized medical care services mostly. "When two years ago, 45% of the respondents were willing to pay themselves, then by now this number has risen to 64%," he described the results. The willingness to pay for dental care and rehabilitation procedures has also increased.

According to the survey, nearly a fifth (23%) of Estonian people visited the Emergency Medical Department last year. The main reason (86%) for Emergency Department visits was unexpected illness or injury. Young people aged between 15 and 24 (32% of youth) ended up at the Emergency Department more often than average.

People's awareness of e-services offered in healthcare system has increased. Compared to 2015, people’s awareness about the patient portal has significantly increased (from 49% to 70%) and so has the number of visits. The survey shows that more and more people use the opportunity to check their prescriptions, health insurance validity and payments of various benefits in the state portal 

Rain Laan is pleased that people's overall awareness about healthy lifestyle and disease prevention is rather good.  “According to the survey, most people know that a healthy and active lifestyle helps prevent diseases. More than half of the population also considers it important to have their health checked regularly and participate in free screening. I hope that there will be even more such people in the future, ”said Laane.