healthcare in Slovakia
The Eastern European country of Slovakia has a universal healthcare system for its population of 5.5 million people. Considering insurance, life expectancy and migration, there is a multitude of factors that play a role in the healthcare system of Slovakia. Here are five facts about healthcare in Slovakia.

5 Facts About Healthcare in Slovakia

  1. Slovakia has a relatively low life expectancy. The average life expectancy in Slovakia is 77.3 years, which is lower than the average life expectancy in the E.U. The life expectancy for women is 80.7 years while the average life expectancy for men is 73.8 years. Higher education levels can correlate with living a longer life. As a specific example, men with the highest level of education are predicted to live 14 years longer than those less educated.
  2. Slovakia supports universal healthcare. The country of Slovakia has universal healthcare coverage. Moreover, there are 44 state hospitals within the country. Citizens can choose between three nationwide health insurance companies; one is private while the two are public. There is a national average of 3.4 doctors per 1,000 people. In the capital region of Bratislava, there is a higher concentration of doctors with 6.9 physicians per 1,000 people.
  3. The country is lacking healthcare workers. The migration of doctors to neighboring countries has resulted in a shortage of healthcare workers within the country. After Slovakia became a member of the E.U., an estimated 300,000 workers left for countries with better pay, between 2004 and 2019. This affected the number of people in the healthcare field and resulted in a below-average amount of nurses. To keep healthcare professionals in the country, many Slovakians believe that the government should allocate more funding toward the healthcare sector. In this same vein, the government could pay doctors and nurses higher wages.
  4. Risk factors including obesity and smoking affect Slovakians’ lifespans. Obesity is increasing in Slovakia, with 14% of the population identified as overweight. Moreover, when considering the adult population, 20% smoke tobacco products — which contributed to more than 9,000 deaths in 2017. Slovakian men have shorter lifespans than Slovakian women due to partaking in more behavioral risk factors. However, half of the deaths related to these risk factors are preventable.
  5. Roma populations face social discrimination, which leads to health inequalities. Regions such as Kosice and Presov, with large Roma populations, also have a lower life expectancy as well as an infant mortality rate that is twice the national average. The Roma Health Mediators Programme is working to eliminate the barriers of access to medical care. Some of these initiatives include language translations for doctors and enforcing insurance rights to promote the use of health services by the Roma population.

A Bright Future

In 2018, the Slovakian government created the public eHealth initiative to improve technology within hospitals and create electronic medical records. Interestingly, Slovakia has a low healthcare budget as compared with the rest of the E.U. countries. In 2019, the country increased its budget by €300 million, resulting in a total healthcare budget of €5.2 billion. If the government continues to follow this trend of investing more in its hospitals as it currently does — healthcare in Slovakia will greatly improve with additional support from nurses and technological advancements.

Hannah Nelson
Photo: Pikist