Every country faces its own challenges when it comes to health care. This is a continuous issue because there are so many mitigating factors that must be taken into account during the implementation of health care policies. The EU is faced with its own set of challenges based on demographics, and the changes in the population by way of age and new immigrants. Then added to this is the surge in diseases that are classified as chronic. Any health care policy has to deal with the costs that are involved in structuring and maintaining it.
The Aging Population
In the past policies being implemented by the EU for health care have been able to focus on what is needed to be able to effectively tend to acute health care needs. Now with a population that is transitioning into becoming more seniors, the responsibility being placed on various health care systems is focusing more on dealing with chronic care and diseases more related to the older population. Statistics are indicating that across Europe the population that is 85 years old or older will rise to 19 million by the year 2020. This is an increase from the current 14 million. Then by the year 2050, this count will rise to 40 million.
The EU health policy has taken this into account with their 2016 to 2020 policy planning. Their focus to address this area of health concerns will be addressing the risk factors that come with the chronic disease. The figures are staggering when they have taken into account the number of people who are stricken with the chronic disease that is still in the working age category. Included in this category of diseases are heart disease, cancer, strokes, and diabetes. The cost of these diseases on the health care system is excessive and will continue to grow. This is a challenge that the EU policies must address, and plan on funds to be able to carry the costs.
The EU Health Policy Makers face new challenges when it comes to dealing with cross- border health threats like Ebola, Polio and the middle east respiratory syndrome (corona virus). This is something that has already been recognized and identified and the Policy in force has taken some positive steps to deal with these threats, but a new audit report is indicating that there is still more that needs to be done. This means that once again the EU health policy makers are facing the challenge of taking additional and more effective steps for keeping these under control. This is just another potential danger to putting a toll on the costs that health care creates.
Health Care Sustainability
According to an article published by Politico they report the following statistics;
- 80 % of the EU population that is over the age of 65 have reported having at least one chronic disease, and 50% have at least two chronic conditions. In total 77% of the diseases that are reported in Europe are classified as chronic
- Out of every six individuals in the EU have a disability that falls in between the range of being mild to severe.
- A staggering 10% of individuals who have to leave the workforce do so because of health problems.
These are all factors that are being taken into account with the planning and augmentation of a Health Care Policy for the EU for the 2016 to 2020 years.