People with respiratory diseases must be able to afford to take care of themselves and their families

The treatment expenses paid by the patient usually consist of medication, treatment, rehabilitation, follow-up appointment costs and related travel expenses. 

 We have a seat on the Patient Advisory Board of Fimea. The purpose of the Board is to strengthen the cooperation between Fimea and patient organisations in matters related to medication and medical devices. Our term is two years (2020 to 2021). Some of the medicines required for treating respiratory diseases are not covered by the reimbursement system for medicine expenses. This increases the patient’s financial burden. Many people with respiratory diseases also need to pay for the treatment of other diseases from which they suffer. People with respiratory diseases must be ensured affordable treatment in accordance with the treatment guidelines. Everyone must be able to afford to get treatment.

Some respiratory patients have skipped their medication or doctor’s appointments for financial reasons. High treatment costs have forced some patients to spend less money on food. Source: Survey conducted by the Organisation for Respiratory Health in Finland in 2016.

We are also cooperating with the following organisations:

  • Working group for the Social Security Guide
  • Pharmaceutical information network: subgroup for the involvement of medication users  
  • The Finnish Society for Patient and Client Safety, patient section

Future amendments to the legislation governing healthcare client fees should take the needs of chronically ill people into consideration. Follow-up appointments should be free of charge. The out-of-pocket costs related to pharmaceutical expenses, healthcare expenses, and travel expenses should have one annual maximum limit. This annual maximum limit should be made lower. The Organisation for Respiratory Health in Finland actively lobbies in matters concerning the client fee legislation. In 2020, we issued a statement to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on the amendments to the act on healthcare client fees.  We are also raising this issue together with the patient and public health organisations’ network of the umbrella organisation SOSTE and with the associations of the Yksi Elämä project.

People with respiratory diseases should be able to easily access follow-up treatment to ensure the correct use of medication, prepare for the flu season, and ensure that they are vaccinated. When healthcare services support the patient with self-care, this helps reduce flare-ups which could lead to hospitalisation. People with respiratory conditions should be referred for influenza and pneumococcal vaccination.

 We are participating in Duodecim’s patient participation project, which aims, together with patients’ associations, to incorporate the perspective of patients into treatment guidelines. The project lasts three years (2020 to 2022).

For several years, the Organisation for Respiratory Health has monitored influenza and pneumococcal vaccination coverage among people with respiratory diseases in Finland. We have also strongly recommended people with respiratory diseases to get vaccinated. The Finnish Government has submitted a proposal to the Parliament to have pneumococcal vaccines introduced into the national vaccination programme in 2021 for persons aged 65 to 84 who suffer from obstructive lung diseases or asthma. All vaccines included in the national vaccination programme are free of charge for recipients.