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The level of informal payments in Romania’s healthcare system is rampant, with more patients paying bribes in the public sector although such payments have also been made in private healthcare chains, suggests a new survey commissioned by Aspen Institute Romania.
In order to get more attention during treatment, 62 percent of the respondents admitted to making informal payments or giving gifts to medical staff. Most of the payments (83 percent) were made in public sector institutions, while the private sector had seven percent. Ten percent of the respondents declined to say where they paid the bribe.
The survey by Exact Cercetare si Consultanta research firm, which was carried online and had a sample of 1,154 respondents, says that 15 percent of the patients pay between RON 50 (EUR 11) to RON 100 (EUR 22) for better care, while 31 percent of them pay over RON 200 (EUR 44).
Nic Voiculescu, managing partner of Link Resources, the healthcare consultancy that crunched the survey data, said the level of informal payments (e.n. named spaga in Romanian) in the private sector is “worrying.”
“This is a warning sign to improve their control system of private services,” said Voiculescu.
However, any attempt of authorities to formalize these payments – by meddling in the relationship between the patient and the doctor – may prove to be futile, as people may perceive it as a new tax aimed at financing an inefficient healthcare system, according to Voiculescu.
The managing partner said that informal payments may start to go down if the doctors’ paychecks are increased and people stop paying more for services that are covered by the insurance system.
Asked if they would have health issues in the next three months, 62 percent of the respondents said they would seek treatment in a public institution, while 52 percent would opt for a private clinic.
More than 70 percent of the respondents would choose the private system due to the quality of the healthcare services, while more than 50 percent mentioned the cleanliness and the short waiting period in getting checked as the main advantages of the private healthcare providers.
The survey further shows that one quarter of those that seeked treatment in private hospitals were recommended to visit public centers for additional investigations and complex procedures.
Voiculescu commented this happens because of the current capabilities and possibilities of the private system.
Close to half of the respondents said that chemists recommend the right medicine for a patient or that they make certain recommendations based on a commercial gain.
Highest confidence in Raed ArafatThe survey has also drawn up a list of the best medical centers in Romania. Respondents named the healthcare suppliers they prefer.
In the public sector, Romania's Floreasca Emergency Hospital ranks first, followed by the Central Military Hospital and the Fundeni Clinical Institute. In the private healthcare market, MedLife holds the leading position, followed by Regina Maria and Medicover.
The survey also gauged the confidence of respondents in persons that manage Romania’s healthcare system.
Raed Arafat, founder of the emergency service SMURD and state secretary within the Ministry of Health, tops the confidence index at 76 percent. Eugen Nicolaescu, the current health minister, ranks second with 11 percent, the same as Vasile Astarastoae, president of the Association of Doctors.
Lacramioara Loghin, managing director, Exact CC, said the most trusted institutions or healthcare providers in Romania are the SMURD, private healthcare operators and the ambulance services. Business Review Romania
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