NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Private Health Care Spreading In Russia

December 22, 2000

With the "free" government-run health system in Russia in a state of collapse, an increasing amount of health care is being provided by for-profit clinics and hospitals.

Even the poor care that is available in underfunded and outdated hospitals usually requires bribes or gratuities to health care workers.

  • A typical surgeon at a public hospital might take home 1,500 rubles a month -- $50 -- and if lucky, add $100 in legitimate overtime and other supplements.
  • At a state-of-the art private hospital near Moscow, a surgeon can make as much as $3,000 a month.
  • By some estimates, private spending for drugs and physicians' services approached 2.6 percent of gross domestic product in 1998, almost equal to the 3 percent the government spent on free care.

While only 3 to 5 percent of Russians can afford private hospitals, their relatively low prices are attracting expatriates and funding modernization of the health care system -- including some public institutions that take for-profit patients.

Source: Michael Wines, "Capitalism Comes to Russian Health Care," New York Times, December 22, 2000.


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