Healthcare in Europe

Healthcare in Europe is provided through a wide range of different systems run at individual national levels. Most European countries have a system of tightly regulated, competing private health insurance companies, with government subsidies available for citizens who cannot afford coverage.[1][2] Many European countries (and all European Union countries) offer their citizens a European Health Insurance Card which, on a reciprocal basis, provides insurance for emergency medical treatment insurance when visiting other participating European countries.[3]

European Health Insurance Card (French version pictured)

European health

EU countries with the highest life expectancy (2019)[4]
Country Life expectancy
at birth (years)
5. 1. Spain 83.4
6. 2. Italy 83.4
11. 3. Sweden 82.7
12. 4. France 82.5
13. 5. Malta 82.4
16. 6. Ireland 82.1
17. 7. Netherlands 82.1
19. 8. Luxembourg 82.1
20. 9. Greece 82.1

The World Health Organization has listed 53 countries as comprising the European region. Health outcomes vary greatly by country. Countries in western Europe have had a significant increase in life expectancy since World War II, while most of eastern Europe and the former Soviet countries have experienced a decrease in life expectancy.[5]

Tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of death in Europe. Many countries have passed legislation in the past few decades restricting tobacco sales and use.[5]

European Union

The European Union has no major administrative responsibility in the field of healthcare. The European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumers however seeks to align national laws on the safety of food and other products, on consumers' rights and on the protection of people's health, to form new EU wide laws and thus strengthen its internal markets.[citation needed]

Both the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are involved in public health development in Europe.[6]

See also


  1. Sanger-Katz, Margot (19 February 2019). "What's the Difference Between a 'Public Option' and 'Medicare for All'?". The New York Times.
  2. Abelson, Reed; Sanger-Katz, Margot (23 March 2019). "Medicare for All Would Abolish Private Insurance. 'There's No Precedent in American History.'". The New York Times.
  3. "European Health Insurance Card". European Commission. Retrieved 23 August 2019. A free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.
  4. "2019 Human Development Index Ranking | Human Development Reports".
  5. Mackenbach, Johan P; Karanikolos, Marina; McKee, Martin (March 2013). "The unequal health of Europeans: successes and failures of policies". The Lancet. 381 (9872): 1125–1134. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)62082-0. hdl:1765/39673. PMID 23541053.
  6. "European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)".