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Health at a Glance: Europe 2020

State of Health in the EU Cycle

image of Health at a Glance: Europe 2020

The 2020 edition of Health at a Glance: Europe focuses on the impact of the COVID‑19 crisis. Chapter 1 provides an initial assessment of the resilience of European health systems to the COVID-19 pandemic and their ability to contain and respond to the worst pandemic in the past century. Chapter 2 reviews the huge health and welfare burden of air pollution as another major public health issue in European countries, and highlights the need for sustained efforts to reduce air pollution to mitigate its impact on health and mortality. The five other chapters provide an overview of key indicators of health and health systems across the 27 EU member states, 5 EU candidate countries, 3 European Free Trade Association countries and the United Kingdom. Health at a Glance: Europe is the first step in the State of Health in the EU cycle.

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Financial hardship and out-of-pocket expenditure

Where health systems fail to provide adequate financial protection, people may not have enough money to pay for health care or meet other basic needs. As a result, lack of financial protection can reduce access to health care, undermine health status, deepen poverty and exacerbate health and socio-economic inequalities. On average across EU member states, around a fifth of all spending on health care comes directly from patients through out-of-pocket (OOP) payments (see indicator “Financing of health expenditure” in Chapter 5). People experience financial hardship when the burden of such OOP payments is large in relation to their ability to pay. Poor households and those who have to pay for long-term treatment such as medicines for chronic illness are particularly vulnerable.

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