Helga Špadina, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Labor and Social Law and Social Work, Faculty of Law, University Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Osijek, Croatia

Social policies in the area of access to health care have been high on the agenda of the European Union which continuously monitors the state of healthcare in its Member States, particularly following the introduction of European Pillar of Social Rights with healthcare being one of the key areas of its Social Protection and Inclusion. Social policies in the area of access to healthcare have to deal not only with direct access to health care providers, but also with gender, age and education related disparities in access to healthcare, indirect and sometimes invisible causes of health disparities and social disparities leading to lower life expectancy. In the times of the pandemic, it becomes clear that countries cannot successfully tackle the fight against communicable diseases without having sound social policies dealing with access to healthcare. During the corona virus public health crisis, new challenges to access to healthcare emerged, such as rapid digitalization of health care and introduction of telemedicine and obstacles in access to reproductive healthcare and immunization for children. The paper provides an analysis of the main obstacles to effective access to health care in Croatia during the Covid-19 crisis, including access to reproductive health care, immunization for children and prevention of mortality, since Croatia is among the five EU Member States with the lowest cancer survival rate and has a shorter life expectancy by 2,9 years than the rest of the EU. We looked into the comparative health care policies of Sweden and the UK and analysed the most recent case law of the European Court of Human Rights in the area of access to reproductive health care that will shape all future discussions on social policies in health care. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to possible and much needed development of social policy in health care in Croatia.

Keywords: social policies, reproductive health, Covid-19.

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