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Study: Finland’s health care system among best in the world

Finland's publicly-financed health care system is one of the best in the world, according to an international study.

File photo of a child's heart surgery at the Children's Hospital in Helsinki. Image: Yle

The Global Burden of Disease study, published by medical journal The Lancet this spring, examined the health care systems of 188 countries around the world and found Finland to have one of the best systems.

As Finland's leaders are debating and planning broad reforms of the country's health care system, the sector received high marks in the international study.

Hundreds of researchers from around the world closely examined and compared topics like disease statistics, mortality rates, risk factors and health issues in the surveyed countries.

Top seven

The quality and equality of health care services in Finland were rated among the best in the world. Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Australia were at the top of the list.

Statistically, the health care in the top seven countries were roughly equal to each other in terms of overall quality.

Compared to those nations, Finland's public health services also improved the most over the past few years, according to the report.

In recent years the study, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has also examined how countries finance their health care system and whether those services were available to everyone.

The top three countries with the best quality and most egalitarian health services were found to be Finland, Switzerland and Iceland.

The researchers also examined health care quality versus their cost to patients, and Finland performed very well in that regard, too.

USA: World's dearest health care

According to the study, the most expensive health care was in the United States.

In Finland the annual cost-per-patient is around 2,800 euros, while in the United States' privately-financed health care system that figure is nearly 6,900 euros per patient.

The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa's CEO Aki Lindén said the difference in price proves that market-driven, commercial health services are not at the same level as publicly-organised ones.

"In Finland we have reached the best and most effective health care system that humanity has ever seen. No other country [offers] such a high level of quality, efficiency and fairness of care for the same amount of money," Lindén said in a statement on the study's findings.

According to the study, Finland's biggest challenge in the health care arena is improving the prevention of maladies like heart disease, mental illness and alcoholism.

To reach their findings, the researchers used historical health financing data for 188 countries from 1995-2015, in order to make projections of future costs of health spending and pooled health spending through 2040.

The study said that in future, Finland's health care system will likely be better off than other countries if it continues to be run the way it has - and if no major changes take place.