Aim: To describe health care reforms and analyze the transition of the health care system in Romania in the 1989-2001 period.
Method: We analyzed policy documents, political intentions and objectives of health care reform, described new legislation, and presented changes in financial resources of the health care system.
Results: The reforms of the health care system in Romania have been realized in a rather difficult context of scarcity of financial and human resources. The Gross Domestic Product spent on health care in 2000 was 4% and the number of physicians in 1999 was 42,975. The main changes due to the legislative reforms have been the introduction of a new social health insurance and strengthening of the position of family physicians. Negative effects of the reforms have been the decrease in health care accessibility and growing inequity in utilization of health care services. Health care users still pay physicians under-the-table, and have more out-of-pocket health care expenses.
Conclusion: Future reforms in Romania should encourage the positive effects of current reforms: free choice of physician, autonomy of the primary health care system, and increasing financial resources for the health care system.