Medical Sector Overview

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Sarina Migge

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Comprehensive, effective, and well-funded, Luxembourg’s medical sector provides the country with top-notch treatment and care.

Luxembourg has made quality healthcare a priority for its residents, spending more per capita than almost every other OECD member state and more than any other state in the EU. The country spends about 1,000 euros more per capita than Germany, the second-highest spender in the EU, according to 2015 figures. This results in one of the highest life expectancies in the EU. Although the country’s population is only just over 600,000, it has four regional hospitals as well as countless specialised medical centres. The healthcare needs of inhabitants are served by 2,331 doctors, and the Grand Duchy has more nurses per capita than most OECD countries, nearly 12 per 1,000 inhabitants. More than 95 percent of inhabitants are covered under the national healthcare scheme, which is both generous and comprehensive. Patients in Luxembourg benefit from an open, multilingual, and competitive system that allows them to choose their own doctors and visit specialists without having to first get a referral. The healthcare system is built around a firm declaration of patients’ rights that puts their needs and expectations squarely at the centre. 

Hospitals

The largest hospital complex in Luxembourg is the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL), which is located in Luxembourg City and was opened in 1975. It contains a general hospital, a newly constructed and modern maternity ward, a pediatric clinic called the Kannerklinik, and the Clinique d’Eich, which is located a few kilometres away. In addition to providing excellent care, since its founding the CHL has made teaching and research a large part of its mission. While Luxembourg doesn’t have a medical school, many of the CHL’s services are recognised in neighbouring countries and are used in training and internship programs for future doctors, pharmacists, and biologists. 

The second-largest hospital group is Hôpitaux Robert Schuman, formed in 2014 from the merger of the Clinique Bohler, Kirchberg Hospital, the Zithaklinik, and the Clinique Sainte Marie. The group employs more than 280 doctors and 2,250 staff who provide high-quality medical care. Units include women’s and children’s health, geriatrics, cognitive-behavioural, psychiatric, internal medicine, musculoskeletal, and abdominal-oncological. 

To provide care for those who live farther away from the capital, there are two other hospitals, one called Centre Hospitalier du Nord (CHdN) in the north of the country, and one in the south, Emile Mayrisch Hospital (CHEM), both of which also have emergency units. 

Insurance and coverage

The state-funded healthcare system, which is managed by the National Health Fund (Caisse Nationale de Santé, or CNS), provides medical coverage and is based on three principles: compulsory health insurance, open choice of provider for patients, and obligatory compliance from providers who must abide by a fixed set of fees and services. All employees as well as freelance workers are obliged to pay into the social security system, which then grants healthcare to them and dependent family members. Healthcare providers will ask to see a patient’s social security card, and payment is usually rendered by the patient and later reimbursed between 80 to 100 percent, although for some medical services the CNS and provider deal with the costs themselves. More than 90 percent of healthcare services are covered by the CNS, but half of all residents still choose to take out supplemental insurance, often to have complete coverage for vision and dental care.

Bachelor's programme in medicine

As further proof of the Grand Duchy’s commitment to quality healthcare, the University of Luxembourg is establishing a new bachelor’s programme in medicine that is expected to launch in 2020. The programme will be conducted in close collaboration with four French universities including the University of Lorraine and the University of Strasbourg, and its aim will be to prepare students for ‘medicine of the future’, says Prof. Rudi Balling, Director of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB). Nearly €767 million from the state will help to fund the programme, and the funds will also support new specialised training programmes in oncology and neurology. 

The Luxembourg Institute of Health

The quality of Luxembourg’s medical sector is greatly boosted by the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), a public research organisation at the cutting-edge of biomedical sciences. It strives to provide research that will directly impact clinical settings and improve outcomes for patients. In 2018, its more than 200 scientists were responsible for 274 publications and led 370 ongoing projects. 

The LIH focuses on four areas including cancer, immunological disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and preventative medicine, which are all covered by three departments. The Department of Oncology investigates the most prevalent types of cancer in Luxembourg. Meanwhile, the Department of Infection and Immunity labours to shed light on infectious and inflammatory diseases by fostering collaboration with immunologists, engineers, biochemists, and computational and systems biologists. The Department of Population Health investigates the major causes of morbidity and mortality, integrating a wide range of research fields such as sports medicine, health economics, and human biomonitoring. 

The institute also includes the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg (IBBL), which by 2019 was estimated to have collected nearly a million samples.