HSR experts on Improving Health Services Delivery and Management in Post-Soviet Era. Mt Sinai J Med 78:436–448, 2011
During the post-Soviet transition of the last 2 decades, ex-Communist countries of the Eastern Bloc, including eastern and central Europe, the Soviet Union, and its satellite and aligned states, have undergone major health system reforms. Many health systems of those countries–previously adopting a Soviet-type Semashko model–are currently called ‘‘in transition,’’ as reform agendas, such as shifting to a Bismarck, Beveridge, or mixed financing scheme or adopting new health delivery management policies, are still in development. In this article, we first review common characteristics of Semashko health systems (the predominant health system of Communist countries during the Soviet era) and then discuss the ‘‘new public management’’ principles that ex-Communist countries have recently started to adopt with various degrees of success. We then illustrate experiences with these principles using 2 case studies, from Russia and Albania, and propose health policy options for both cases. Based on a review of the literature and on the our work experience in Russia and Albania, we found that the 2 ex-Semashko systems have not fully capitalized on expected positive outcomes of new public management principles due to low local healthcare financing levels, depreciated healthcare infrastructure and operational capacities, overlapping and contradicting ideology and policies of the former and newer health systems, and finally, lack of leadership that has successful experience with these principles. In the case of pharmaceutical pricing, reimbursement, and access in Russia, we show how a well-intentioned but sub-optimally designed and managed pharmaceutical coverage scheme has suffered moral hazard and adverse selection and has adversely impacted the new public management promise of efficient medicine coverage. In the case of Albania, the delayed investment in human resource reform within a depreciated and underfinanced delivery system has adversely affected the implementation of new public management principles.Mt Sinai J Med 78:436–448, 2011.