Comparison of medicine reimbursement systems: More new medicines in the Finnish market


– The comparison of Finland and New Zealand is interesting because the countries have similar health care systems, whose costs per resident are close to each other. However, the medicine reimbursement systems and medicine markets are very different, says Kela’s researcher Katri Aaltonen, MSc (Pharm.).

To what extent are medicine reimbursements sufficient in Finland and in New Zealand? In Finland, the households with the lowest income spend a larger share of their total consumption on medicines than the well-to-do. In New Zealand, no significant connection has been established between the high excesses and socio-economic standing among the elderly.

– Nearly every fifth Finn does not buy medicines or use other forms of treatment due to their costs. Most often, the persons who are forced to cut down on their medicines and treatments are persons with low income and poor health, says Aaltonen, whose doctoral thesis study was published in the Research publications series.

In New Zealand, there are fully reimbursed medicines for most health issues, but there are fewer options and the selection includes more older medicine than in Finland. The amount of new medicine innovations in the market is also wider in Finland.

In Finland, the price of a medicine can be reimbursed up to 40%, 65% or 100%. In New Zealand, most medicines are fully reimbursed. The selections of medicines reimbursed are also different. In Finland, many types of medicine used for milder and temporary symptoms are not included in the reimbursement system. However, there are many new types of medicine available for chronic and more severe illnesses as well as several similar options close to each other from the treatment perspective.

Source: Affordability of medicines from the pharmaceutical system perspective. Comparative analysis of Finland and New Zealand. Aaltonen, Katri. University of Eastern Finland, 2017. The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Studies in social security and health 146, 2017.