HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s coalition government resigned on Friday a month ahead of a general election, saying it could not deliver on a healthcare reform package that is widely seen as crucial to securing long-term government finances.
Healthcare systems across much of the developed world have come under increasing stress in recent years as treatment costs soar and people live longer, meaning fewer workers are supporting more pensioners.
Nordic countries, where comprehensive welfare is the cornerstone of the social model, have been among the most affected. But reform has been controversial and, in Finland, plans to cut costs and boost efficiency have stalled for years.
The reforms expected to generate savings by creating 18 new regions to organize healthcare services instead of the 200 entities that are currently responsible. Critics said the scale of the projected savings was unrealistic.
Other Nordic countries have also grappled with the need to cut costs. Sweden is to gradually raise its retirement age and has opened up parts of the healthcare system to the private sector in a bid to boost efficiency.
Denmark will gradually increase the retirement age to 73 - the highest in the world - while cutting taxes and unemployment benefits to encourage people to work more.