Spanish health care cuts: penny wise and pound foolish?

Health Policy. 2012 Jun;106(1):23-8. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2012.02.001. Epub 2012 Apr 9.


The purpose of this paper is to convey the specific health care actions and policies undertaken by the Spanish government, as well as by regional governments, as a result of the economic crisis. Throughout the last two years we have witnessed a number of actions in areas such as human capital, activity and processes, outsourcing and investment that, poorly coordinated, have shaped the nature of financial cuts on public services. This paper discloses the size and magnitude of these actions, the main actors involved and the major consequences for the health sector, citizens and patients. We further argue that there are a number of factors which have been neglected in the discourse and in the actions undertaken. First, the crisis situation is not being used as an opportunity for major reforms in the health care system. Further, the lay public and professionals have remained as observers in the process, with little to no participation at any point. Moreover, there is a general perception that the solution to the Spanish situation is either the proposed health care cuts or an increase in cost sharing for services which neglects alternative and/or complementary measures. Finally, there is a complete absence of any scientific component in the discourse and in the policies proposed.

MeSH terms

  • Cost Control / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Economic Recession*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Policy Making*
  • Spain