European countries have achieved significant gains in population health, but there remain large inequalities in health status both across and within countries. Life expectancy at birth in European Union (EU) member states has increased by more than five years on average since 1990, although the gap between those countries with the highest and lowest life expectancies remains around eight years. There are also persistently large inequalities within countries among people from different socio-economic groups, with individuals with higher levels of education and income enjoying better health and living several years longer than those more disadvantaged. These disparities are linked to many factors, including some outside health care systems, such as the environment in which people live, individual lifestyles and behaviours, and differences in access to and quality of care.
Health at a Glance: Europe 2014 presents the most recent data on health status, risk factors to health, and access to high-quality care in all 28 EU member states, candidate countries (with the exception of Albania due to limited data availability) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries. The selection of indicators is based mainly on the European Core Health Indicators (ECHI), developed by the European Commission. This edition includes a new chapter on access to care, assessing where possible the impact of the economic crisis on financial barriers, geographic barriers and waiting times.
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