The costs to the public medical sector in Denmark increased with almost 30 % in the period 2001-2011. Due to this exorbitant increase in the expenditures related to the medical sector, user charges on medical visits are a hot topic among politicians and other opinion-leaders these days.
Some politicians proposed to implement the norwegian model for user charges on medical visits. Some characteristics of the norwegian model are listed below:
- A visit to the doctor costs 127 DKK (17 euro)
- Children below 16 years are for free
- A person pays at maximum 1.712 DKK (230 euro) per year regardless of the number of visits to the doctor.
- An assessment of the norwegian model is difficult to do because of the measuring problem of quality in the medical sector.
Mia Amalie Holstein says: “There is nothing to suggest that user fees in the other Nordic countries has led to poorer health“
It might be important to underline that the current danish model gives access to medical visits without the patient has to pay anything besides the high-income tax in Denmark.
Some doctors and politicians are concerned about whether low-income people would go to the doctor if they are ill or concerned about something.
On the other hand doctors are aware of that some people go to the doctor even though they don’t suffer from illness, some of them just like to chat to the doctor as they may feel excluded by the regular society and the doctors’ clinic could be one of the only places where they can get human contact.
Doctors aren’t educated to deal with these types of problems and in general the doctors have less than 20 minutes per medical visits in Denmark.
One might hope that user charges on medical visists would lead to more time per patient and a higher qualitiative treatmeant. Furthermore the most likely result would be a significant cut of costs which can be used elsewhere in the medical sector or in other public sectors.
On the downside user charges on medical visits would probably lead to some patient who needs treatment would stay at home instead of paying the fee which can be fatal for patients with progressing tumors and other health issues which requires immediate treatment.
CEPOS estimates that the number of medical visits would decrease by 27 % if the danish government impose the norwegian model. In a country were the expenditures related to the medical sector are quite high (10,9 % of GDP in 2011) it would be and opportunity to reduce the high spendings in the medical sector or simply devote the money to more research and development.
I am in favour of implementing a new model where user charges pay for a part of the expenses in the medical sector.
For further information please read this: http://www.ugeskriftet.dk/portal/page/portal/LAEGERDK/UGESKRIFT_FOR_LAEGER?public_visningsType=15&public_nyhedsId=92662
(A weekly danish magazine for doctors)
Andreas Mølgaard Laursen 1538 (November 2013)
 Mia Amalie Holstein is the chief consultant in Center for Political Studies: CEPOS is an independent Danish think tank promoting a society based on freedom, responsibility, private initiative and limited government (www.cepos.dk)