Health policy making under information constraints: An evaluation of the policy responses to the economic crisis in Greece

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


External organisations

  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens


Introduction: Cost consolidation in the highly fragmented and inefficient Greek health care system was necessary. However, policies introduced were partly formed in a context of insufficient information. Expenditure data from a consumption point of view were lacking and the depth of the political and structural problems was of unknown magnitude to the supervisory authorities.

Methods: Drawing upon relevant literature and evidence from the newly implemented OECD System of Health Accounts, the paper evaluates the health policy responses to the economic crisis in Greece. The discussion and recommendations are also of interest to other countries where data sources are not reliable or decisions are based on preliminary data and projections.

Results: Between 2009 and 2012, across-the-board cuts have resulted in a decline in public health expenditure for inpatient care by 8.6%, for pharmaceuticals by 42.3% and for outpatient care by 34.6%. Further cuts are expected from the ongoing reforms but more structural changes are needed.

Conclusion: Cost-containment was not well targeted and expenditure cuts were not always addressed to the real reasons of the pre-crisis cost explosion. Policy responses were restricted to quick and easy fiscal adjustment, ignoring the need for substantial structural reforms or individuals’ right to access health care irrespective of their financial capacity. Developing appropriate information infrastructure, restructuring and consolidating the hospital sector and moving toward a tax-based national health insurance could offer valuable benefits to the system.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-284
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number3
Early online date1 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • Economic crisis, Austerity, Health reforms

ASJC Scopus subject areas