Logo of the Belgian government

The origin

Healthcare costs have been rising at an alarming rate throughout the world, but especially in western societies. There are several well-known reasons for this:

  • Public demand for fast access to cheaper and more sophisticated healthcare
  • Very expensive new technologies and new drugs are creating supply-driven demand
  • Population ageing accompanied by an increase in healthcare needs
  • Human resources are increasingly expensive and healthcare personnel requirements will grow in the future

In Belgium, budgetary constraints limit growth in healthcare budgets and the governmental agreement stipulates that this limitation must:

  • Respect the therapeutic freedom of healthcare providers
  • Respect the freedom of choice of patients
  • Not be opposed to the principles of quality healthcare

There is therefore very little room for manoeuvre for healthcare policymakers. Most other European countries face a similar problem. Many of them have had, sometimes for a very long time, scientific institutions to support healthcare quality, to assess new health technologies and to support changes to healthcare funding. Finally, as citizens circulate more freely between European Union member states, it is also important to observe the functioning of the systems employed in other countries in order to work towards a degree of harmonisation.

published on 08-07-2011