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Reforming a highly regarded but costly health system

The highly regarded Austrian health system delivers good quality and easily accessible services, but is costly. Its governance and funding structure is highly fragmented and it makes too much use of inpatient care in hospitals. Entry and competition opportunities are de facto limited in most health markets. The system operates therefore on a supply-driven basis, and does not have clear mechanisms to optimize spending on a cost-benefit basis. Population lifestyles are also not supportive of good health outcomes and suffer important differences between social groups, raising risks for the future. This Chapter reviews Austrian authorities’ responses to these challenges, and makes recommendations based on OECD countries’ experiences. The suggested priorities are: i) more clearly assigning the performance, financing and spending responsibilities in the system, ii) enforcing a national capacity plan for publicly-funded inpatient and outpatient care, iii) introducing performance-based payment mechanisms in all services, iv) promoting the transition to “integrated care” by better balancing preventive, outpatient, inpatient, rehabilitation and long-term care, and v) better clarifying the medium-term fiscal outlook and scenarios of the system.

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