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Ministry of Health and Social Security: 

Making the Numbers Add Up

Martine Deprez, Luxembourg’s Minister of Health and Social Security, utilizes her expertise in mathematics and her extensive experience within the General Inspectorate of Social Security to pivot Luxembourg’s health services towards patient-centered care. However, she also navigates the challenges of workforce deficits and the impending strain on the pensions budget.

As Minister, what are your priorities in the field of health?

The ministry's foremost priority centers on structuring the health system around the patient. Initiatives include going out into the field to see the structures, meet the players, and listen to concerns. Emphasizing prevention stands paramount, this includes health education, promotion of physical activity and healthy eating, avoidance of alcohol, sugar, and substance abuse. Funding is a primary concern that we have to work on. I firmly believe that when a patient has a medically justified need, securing quickly the necessary financial resources becomes essential. Additionally, the development of a digital framework is underway, promising individual patient files for all. This digital transformation also entails the introduction of the PID payment system, streamlining transactions so that patients only need to pay for expenses not covered by the Caisse Nationale de Santé (CNS)

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“Our key priority in the ministry is a health system built around the patient”

What are the issues that you will have to address on your social security agenda?

I have been asked to look into the financial sustainability of our pension scheme. It is a major undertaking because everyone is involved. We face both an aging and increasing population. Forty years ago, we had employment growth rates of 10% or 12%. Now, those are the people who are starting to retire. The number of pensioners will probably exceed the increase in employment. If that trend is maintained, we project that there will probably be a deficit around 2027-2028. If the outflow of funds continues to surpass the inflow of revenue it is crucial to respond promptly because once this situation is reached, it will escalate exponentially.

What risks and opportunities do you see for health and social security in Luxembourg?

Luxembourg is a small country. People know and talk to each other. There is constructive dialogue and we can make decisions quickly. But health is a major issue and we're looking anxiously at the labor shortage in every sector of the economy, not just healthcare. And that's where we need to put a bit more energy, develop ideas to attract and train this medical workforce ourselves in the healthcare sector. It has been raised as both a risk and an opportunity that many people who work in Luxembourg live in neighboring countries where they receive their health care. However, during my visits to the field, particularly in the northern region of the country, such as the hospital in Wiltz, I have observed that approximately 30% of patients are not residents of Luxembourg. So roughly speaking there is a balance.

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