Self-care saves € 36 billion in health expenditure and can save € 18 billion more

New findings published in scientific journal on the Economic and Social Value of Self-Care in Europe

Brussels, 23 May 2023 – Each year across Europe, 1.2 billion cases of minor ailments are self-managed by use of non-prescription medicines. This saves more than € 36 billion of expenditure that would otherwise be borne by patients, national health systems and economies. Expanding self-care for minor ailments could save an additional €18 billion a year. This is the conclusion of a study into the economic and social value of self-care in Europe, published this week in the scientific journal Thieme: Gesundheit Ökon Quality management.

European health systems face serious challenges that can be explained by the scarcity of resources and the increasing pressure of demographic changes and scientific progress. The fragility of health systems is further impacted by additional stressors linked, for example, to climate change, pandemics and geopolitical conflicts.

The major impact of self-care in Europe

Self-care offers an answer to health policy makers. It already plays an important role in saving precious resources and ensuring the resilience of healthcare systems across Europe. There is also evidence that it can be further enhanced. The study “Self-Care in Europe: Economic and Social Impact on Individuals and Society”, led by Professor Uwe May and Doctor Cosima Bauer, aims to offer an updated picture of the economic and social value of Self-Care in Europe.

The study identifies the current contribution of Self-Care to European health systems, economies and individuals in 30 European countries (EU27, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom), and considers its future potential if it were to be further promoted.

Cost savings

The study confirms that self-care already yields substantial benefits by allowing people to treat minor ailments independently, in a less time-consuming and less expensive way. It also shows that by applying more self-care for minor ailments, the total savings could potentially amount to more than € 54 billion on an annual basis for European health care.

More efficiency

Self-care also leads to more efficiency in healthcare and productivity. Due to the decrease in the number of GP consultations, general doctors have more time for more complex medical cases. Without self-care, 120,000 extra GPs would be needed in Europe. Or each GP would have to work an extra 2.4 hours each day.


Jurate Svarcaite, AESGP Director General, said: “In the face of unprecedented times that require health systems to adapt, the promotion of self-care in Europe ensures the efficient and sustainable use of health system resources and guarantees that people have full and reliable access to health care while feeling empowered to take care of themselves whenever possible”.


Bibliographical references and link to the scientific publication


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