The study uses recent World Bank and OECD data to examine why relative price and wage levels in the health sectors of post-socialist countries are so low compared with the mean price level of GDP. Initially the answer seems to be that the relatively low price level is a positive legacy of the socialist planned economy - though hard to change - that has given the population access to relatively more health-care provision than their countries' level of development (GDP per capita) would warrant in a free market economy. On the other hand the study shows how the relative prices of consumption goods harmful to health (alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and narcotics) are also very low. The result, in Hungary for example, is that a sum equivalent of 4.3 per cent of GDP is spent on such goods, a proportion almost three times as high as in the United States (1.5 per cent) and exceeded only in two Baltic countries: Latvia (4.4 per cent) and Estonia (4.5 per cent). The per capita annual amount of GDP spent on these products in Hungary is USD 639, or one-third of the 'useful' USD 1950 expended on health care, a proportion that compares with one-fifth in Austria and one-seventh in the United States. This presumably is one of the important, hitherto undiscussed reasons for the poor, in some cases declining national health indicators shown by the post-socialist countries.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.