4. Paying for services
Adequate funding for health is important to manage the excess demands on the health system. This section considers how countries are PAYING FOR COVID-19 SERVICES. Health financing describes how much is spent on health and the distribution of health spending across different service areas. The section also describes who is covered for COVID-19 testing and treatment, whether there are any notable gaps (in population coverage and service coverage), and how much people pay (if at all) for those services out-of-pocket.
4.1 Health financing
MEASURES TAKEN IN 2020
According to the Health Preparedness Act of 2000 (Act No. 56 of 23 June 2000 relating to health and social preparedness) provision of services should be maintained in times of crises and this includes maintenance of financing (unless otherwise stipulated in the Act).
On 6 March, the Health Preparedness Act became applicable, giving the Directorate of Health (DoH) the responsibility for the overall coordination of the health systems efforts and for implementing necessary measures. On 13 March this was acknowledged by the King in Council as necessary to secure sufficient equipment and personnel within the healthcare system.
Further, on 20 April, a total of NKr 6.15 billion (€ 541 million) of increased funding to the counties and municipalities was announced to help ease the burden of the pandemic and cover some of the extra expenses in connection to the COVID-19 outbreak. Out of this, NKr 3.9 billion (€ 350 million) went to the municipalities to compensate them for the increased healthcare expenses.
On 4 May, a total of NKr 1 billion (€ 90 million) was distributed among the municipalities as compensation for the loss of income from kindergartens and provision of after-school activities to ensure a stable and well-functioning service.
Funding for eHealth-registries was also increased and necessary transfers to the regional health authorities (RHAs) and the National Insurance Scheme will be granted. Since non-essential treatment has been suspended in the hospitals (see Sections 3.1 and 3.3) some of the freed resources have been reallocated to covering the costs related to COVID-19.
Funding is mainly transferred through the normal channels. Necessary adaptation for reporting and reimbursement of COVID-19 related expenses has been implemented. On 8 April a tripartite agreement was reached for hospital employees regarding an increase in the overtime compensation scheme in connection with the COVID-19 crisis.
Although this was not the primary purpose of this measure, the suspension of patient rights to choose hospital (see Section 3.1 Planning of services) helps health trusts control their finances.
MEASURES TAKEN IN 2021
The health budget for 2021 has been increased by about 9.5% compared to 2020.