European Hospital & Healthcare Employers’ Association

Response to the Consultation regarding Community action on health services

HOSPEEM is pleased that the Commission acknowledges the general interest nature of healthcare services. These irreplaceable services perform special missions and are provided directly or are controlled by the public authorities or entrusted to specific actors who are responsible for them.  They are therefore subject to a process of public regulation under the general supervision of the Member State based on the objectives of the public policies assigned to them with respect to public health.

HOSPEEM would like to underline the important nature of health services and the requirement of access to quality health services for all citizens.  It recalls that it is the responsibility of Member States to define and to organise the services in question as well as the scope of coverage of the health and social needs to be satisfied, in keeping with the principles of subsidiarity and of universal access to healthcare services in the Member States. Furthermore, healthcare services are characterised by asymmetric information between the principal (the patient) and the agent (the doctor). Therefore, we consider as main result that economic allocation of the usual market mechanisms do not apply in this area, but rather resources are planned/organised by the respective authorities.

In view of the diversity of the services concerned and the variety of approaches, organisational and funding methods in the Member States, HOSPEEM welcomes an in depth consultation on these matters.

At the end of this consultation process, the relationship between a possible general framework on services of general economic interest and potential legal initiatives on health services should be answered. Furthermore, any future Community action should include an assessment of the potential impact on national healthcare systems.

FULL TEXT: Response to the Consultation regarding Community action on health services