A team of researchers from several institutions in Europe has conducted an analysis of healthcare quality levels across Europe during the 2008 financial crisis. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they describe the differences they found in level of care over the course of the crisis.
The financial crisis of 2008 was felt in many parts of the world, but not all countries experienced the same impact on healthcare. In some countries, those less well-off saw a decline in healthcare availability and services, while those in other countries did not. In this new effort, the researchers looked at mortality and morbidity rates (being sick or diseased) for people living in 17 countries over the years 1980 to 2014 and 2002 to 2014, respectively. Their data also included survey responses from 350,000 people regarding their levels of health and quality of healthcare they received.
The researchers report that they found major differences in numbers for people living in different countries. Some, such as the U.K. and many western European countries, actually saw a steady improvement in mortality rates for people in all income brackets—a trend that began before the crisis and continued after. Such countries also saw steady numbers for morbidity rates. In other countries, things were not as rosy. They found that while mortality rates in eastern Europe continued to improve in recent years, morbidity rates did not for those with less education and income. They also found that for those countries that felt the strongest economic impact, people of all income brackets saw reductions in availability of healthcare services.
The results by the team, they note, contrast sharply with numbers found by other researchers studying healthcare in the United States. Despite its rating as one of the top economies in the world, the country experienced an increase in both mortality and morbidity rates during the crisis, but only for those on the lower end of the economic spectrum.
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