6 Facts About Healthcare In Bulgaria
Bulgaria is an Eastern European country south of Greece, north of Romania and east of the Black Sea. With a population of 7 million and cultural influence from the Ottoman Empire, Greece and Persia, Bulgaria has a unique and diverse background. Health care is a vital aspect of European life and Bulgaria is no different. Here are six facts about healthcare in Bulgaria.
6 Facts About Healthcare In Bulgaria
- Bulgaria has Centralized Healthcare. Healthcare in Bulgaria is largely centralized, with the National Assembly, the National Health Insurance Fund and the Ministry of Health standing as the main funders. Social single-payer healthcare is monitored through the NHIF, which covers services included in the benefits package and certain medications. Voluntary healthcare is administered by for-profit insurance companies and deals with both the citizens and providers. These systems, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, fund services including emergency care, in-patient mental health care and the development of medical science. The amount of money spent on healthcare in Bulgaria continues to rise, but fees for citizens remain the same.
- The Bulgarian Healthcare System Suffers Overcrowding. In 2016, Bulgaria had slightly more than 321 hospitals and less than 50,000 hospital beds as the population was continuing to grow. This led to a severe overcapacity of the healthcare system. Highly more than 5.5% of working adults serve in the healthcare field. While the number of physicians has increased, the number of general practitioners is limited. This is partly due to aging and the ongoing emigration problem. The ratio of nurses is the worst in the EU with just 1.1 nurses per physician. Overall, healthcare in Bulgaria faces challenges such as a lack of medical equipment and healthcare providers.
- Overall Health is on the Rise. The primary causes of death in Bulgaria are the same as in most European countries: Circulatory diseases, such as coronary heart failure, strokes and cancers. Despite this, the standardized death rates for circulatory diseases have been steadily decreasing since the 1990s. Deaths by ischaemic heart disease fell by 30% from 2014 to 2015 and cancer deaths have been on the decline for more than a decade. This positive trend is due to improved healthcare in Bulgaria and better lifestyle choices.
- The Population is Declining. The Bulgarian population has been declining from 9 million at the end of the 1980s to fewer than 7 million by 2018. The primary reason is a low birthrate, compounded by a high rate of emigration. In 2015, more than 13,000 citizens were leaving the country compared with only 9,000 foreigners entering. However, most Bulgarians end up immigrating to other European countries, with more than 60,000 Bulgarians migrating each year. One reason for emigration is that the country is one of the most impoverished nations within the European Union, with most citizens unable to support themselves and healthcare in Bulgaria being difficult to access.
- Bulgaria is Well Behind the Rest of the EU. Although healthcare in Bulgaria is good by some measures, the country is far behind the rest of the European Union. The quality of work is so low that protesters have taken to the streets to stand up against low wages, corruption and high bills. This led to the Bulgarian government resigning, causing more economic instability within the country. The unemployment rates are lower than in crisis-ridden nations; however, because of low wages, more Bulgarians are considering moving to Greece and Spain, which have higher unemployment rates. In 2015, Bulgaria stood as the unhappiest country in the EU, according to a survey.
- Bulgaria’s Increased Healthcare Spending. Healthcare in Bulgaria is taking a hard hit due to the novel coronavirus, with an increase in healthcare spending by 250 million leva or €123 million. Half of the increased spending will go to the National Health Insurance Fund, which manages insurance and distributes funds to the healthcare system. A significant portion of the money will go to increasing the salaries of frontline medical staff until the end of the year as well as health personnel in state institutions.
Although Bulgaria is far behind the rest of the European Union in many different ways, Bulgaria is a progressive nation with universal healthcare and low hospital bills. With more investments in general practitioners and healthcare facilities as well as better living conditions and incentives to keep citizens in the country, Bulgaria can progress toward health and prosperity.
– Breanna Bonner