According to the government statement, while the country’s over 300 municipalities have been in charge of public healthcare so far, responsibility should now shift to 21 provinces and the capital Helsinki.
Sirpa Paatero, the Finnish minister of local government, underlined at a press conference that in the future, the public sector would play the main role, while private services would offer supplementary services under public sector control.
Krista Kiuru, the minister of family affairs and social services, said at the press conference that some of the current agreements on outsourcing health care to private operators do not meet the new criteria and would be canceled.
The concept of provincial responsibility was already in the plans of the previous government. The change will require the establishment of a provincial administration and elections for provincial assemblies to be arranged in 2022.
However, the reform will not change the current dual system in Finnish basic health care. Besides the public municipal health care centers, a separate health care system for employees is taking care of some 1.5 million citizens, with no cost for the patient to pay. The employee health care system is financed jointly by employers and the government.
Both systems send patients to same hospitals and higher level care. However, while the employee health care system usually gives same-day access to a doctor, patients using public health centers may have to wait for up to three months, which has been complained about by Finns for a long time.
Kiuru said the government reform wants to “play safe” and will not tackle the future of the dual system. “It will be left for future reforms,” she added.
The current overall cost of Finnish healthcare and social services is 19 billion euros. Kiuru said at the press conference that the reform does not aim at cost cutbacks but better control of the spending.