Evgeny Tugolukov
01:07 — 25.01.2022 / Author’s articles

Therapy for the economy

Photo: Максим Стулов / Ведомости

Health care can become a key driver of economic growth in Russia

Since in the modern world health for a person is the most important component of the quality of his life, the medical expenses are steadily growing - both on the part of the state and the population. The Russian HeadHunter research service recently conducted a survey among job seekers about changes in their financial situation due to the pandemic and restrictions associated with the spread of COVID-19. Among other things, the respondents were asked about what part of their salary they have to spend on treatment.

It turned out that 51% of respondents spend up to 10% of their income on medicines and medical care. At the same time, one should not forget about the rapid development of the sector of private medical insurance. Based on an analysis prepared by BusinesStat in 2021 the country, the volume of premiums of insurance entities increased by 29.1% from 140.0 billion to 180.7 billion rubles. For successful companies that value qualified personnel, the inclusion of a medical insurance agreement in the social package for employees has become the norm

According to the ranking of the World Health Organization, the share of medicine in the US GDP is 17.1%, Switzerland - 12.4%, France - 11.3%, Germany - 11.2%, Sweden - 11%, Japan - 10.9%, Canada - 10.6%, Austria - 10.4%, Belgium - 10.3%, Denmark and the Netherlands - 10.1%, Great Britain - 9.6%. Back in 2019, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a forecast that by 2030 in OECD countries, the rate of increase in health spending will exceed the rate of economic growth. It is obvious that the pandemic has severely cut economic growth and led to an increase in the medical sector.

In Russia, the share of medicine in GDP is 5.3%, which is quite decent, given that military sector obtains is a percentage less. But there is potential for growth, both in terms of share and volume. This is an objective necessity, because it is impossible to ensure economic growth without a high level of medical care. Axiom: in order to create material and non-material benefits, it is necessary to have a healthy population. Therefore, without the development of medicine, it is impossible to build a prosperous economy and social system.

In economic terms, medical services themselves are only a part, although the most obvious, of the work of the health care system. Consider this: in order to start providing quality medical services, you first need to build a clinic, developed according to high standards. This clinic should be provided with the most modern equipment, including the advanced diagnostic and treatment complexes. To provide functioning of such an institution requires qualified personnel. The pharmaceutical industry is also an integral part of healthcare. For the whole system to work, it is necessary to develop higher education and science, and not only medical: for example, the introduction of the concept of a “healing environment” requires appropriate knowledge in the field of architecture and design.

So, this is a super-technological industry that ensures progress in various segments of the economy and the social sphere. Of course, it requires huge investments, both public and private: for example, the project to create a regional network of multifunctional centers involves investments in the amount of more than 70 billion rubles. It is necessary to create conditions so that it would be profitable for investors from other industries to invest in medicine, which is a common cause. I am sure that this is a promising area for business - last year the growth in revenue of the private medical sector in Russia amounted to 18.5%. Profitability, in turn, allows large domestic medical companies to invest in improving the quality of services, develop existing treatment methods and transfer foreign technologies, attract the best specialists - not only from Russia, but from all over the world.

According to the Association for Medical Tourism and Export of Medical Services, before the pandemic, 80,000–100,000 Russians traveled abroad for medical treatment each year, with one in three patients making a return trip. Some experts call these figures underestimated, since it is difficult to calculate the number of medical tourists to countries with a visa-free regime for Russians, and many people visited Europe on annual Schengen visas without specifying the purpose of the visit. Now we have the opportunity not only to provide them with the same services at home, but also to open a new multi-billion dollar segment of the market associated with attracting medical tourists from other countries.

Healthcare has all the prerequisites to become one of the key drivers of economic growth in Russia. Its successful development not only contributes to solving the demographic problem, but also creates conditions for Russia's competitiveness at the global level. This is an investment in human capital that will pay off handsomely. Classic of Russian literature, author of the novel “What Is To Be Done?” Nikolai Chernyshevsky wrote: “The work of a doctor is indeed the most productive work: by protecting or restoring health, the doctor acquires for society all those forces that would perish without his cares”.

Evgeny Tugolukov, founder of the Medscan group of companies