Latvia: Health System Review

Daiga Behmane, Alina Dudele, Anita Villerusa, Janis Misins, Kristine Klavina, Dzintars Mozgis, Giada Scarpetti (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This analysis of the Latvian health system reviews recent developments in organization and governance, health financing, health care provision, health reforms and health system performance. After regaining independence in 1991, Latvia experimented with a social health insurance type system. However, to overcome decentralization and fragmentation of the system, the National Health Service (NHS) was established in 2011 with universal population coverage. More recently, reforms in 2017 proposed the introduction of a Compulsory Health Insurance System, with the objective of increasing revenues for health, which links access to different health care services to the payment of social health insurance contributions. In June 2019 the implementation of this proposal was postponed to 2021. Latvia has recovered from the severe economic recession of 2008, which resulted in the adoption of austerity measures that significantly affected the health care system. The recovery has created fiscal space to focus on policy challenges neglected in the past, especially regarding health. Despite recent increases in spending, the health system remains underfunded and resources have to be allocated wisely. Latvia's health outcomes should be considered within this context of limited health system resources. While life expectancy at birth in Latvia has increased since 2000, reaching 74.9 years in 2017, it remains among the lowest in the EU. Recent reforms have focused on improving access to services in rural/remote areas, increasing funding for health care services, and tougher regulation of tobacco and alcohol. However, a number of longstanding unresolved problems still need to be addressed, including financial sustainability and low public funding, high levels of unmet need, high rates of preventable and treatable mortality, and challenges in both communicable and noncommunicable diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-165
Number of pages165
JournalHealth systems in transition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Field of Science*

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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