Authors:Liuba Murauskiene, Milena Pavlova, Marija Veniute, and Wim Groot
Patient payments have not been studied systematically in Lithuania. This limits the use of empirical evidence in policy making. More systematic and detailed evidence on the patient payments phenomena in Lithuania are needed to clarify who is seeking and paying for health care services, why, and how. This paper presents the main findings from a quantitative representative population survey on patient payments in Lithuania. The study results confirm the significant scope of the patient payment practices as well as the complexity of the issue. Overall attitudes towards informal cash payments are negative but there is a rather tolerant view on gifts-in-kind. In case of health problems, access to proper (good quality) treatment is crucial. When treatment is needed, Lithuanian patients are ready to pay irrespective of the legitimacy of the payments and despite of the significant financial burden that these payments may cause. Priorities for the quality of care and the protection of vulnerable groups against financial risks are important and should be addressed when discussing the design of patient payment policies in Lithuania. The lack of a transparent political and organizational arrangements and the failure to communicate properly with the general public are the main challenges for future policy.