Healthcare is part of the national economy - this is obvious, but politicians still do not want to understand and accept it. And yet, the bigger the investment in the health of citizens, the smaller the damage to the economy caused by prolonged illness or total exclusion from work.
The main purpose of the health care system and the reimbursement system is to preserve or restore the health of citizens. However, funds spent on treatment should not be treated as a burden for the budget of the National Health Fund, but as investment, the aim of which is making patients return to full physical and mental fitness in the shortest possible time. However, according to the Employers of Poland a close cooperation of institutions such as the Social Insurance Institution and the National Health Fund, and even wider - looking systemically - close cooperation of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is necessary for that purpose. Ineffective treatment and rehabilitation or unavailability of medicines causes an increase in spending, which is a significant burden for the budget of entrepreneurs (sickness benefit) or Social Insurance Institution (e.g. sickness or disability benefits).
To give you the picture of the situation, let us consider access to depression treatment. Analysis prepared by the Institute of Management in Health Care of Łazarski University – Depression – analysis of economic and social costs – shows that nearly 1.5 million people in Poland suffer from this disease and as they are mainly in the productive age (aged 20-40 years) it generates as much as 5.38 million days of sickness absence. Social Insurance Institution pays benefits in the amount of 726 million zlotys for that. However, this huge amount is in no way comparable with the budget for depression treatment, which is merely 170 million zlotys per year. Meanwhile, a rational manager should pay attention to the cost of depression incurred by the public finance sector - and quickly come to the conclusion that a relatively small increase of the National Health Fund's spending may cause a large drop in Social Insurance Institution’s spending and also bring relief to the whole economy reducing indirect costs (total losses are estimated at 1–2.6 billion zlotys per year). As there are numerous similar examples, one should learn from them. Poland cannot afford inefficient spending of public funds, and funding modern and effective therapies is beneficial for the whole economy.
According to the Employers of Poland it is therefore necessary to coordinate the activities of all public institutions, especially the National Health Fund and Social Insurance Institution in order to reduce the costs of the whole system, which is financed by citizens. When deciding on the reimbursement of medicines’ cost one should take into account a broad analysis of the cost of treatment not only from the perspective of the public payer, but also indirect costs of the disease from a societal perspective, which would allow for rational decision-making.
The report in full is available below (in Polish).