Riigikogu approves state paying for pensioners' health insurance

The Riigikogu on Wednesday adopted a bill of amendments to the Health Insurance Fund Act according to which the income basis of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) would be expanded and the state will begin paying the health insurance portion of the social tax for non-working pensioners.

According to the law, some of the services currently being funded from the state budget will be transferred to the EHIF to reduce the fragmentation of funding and therefore increase the efficiency of the healthcare system - writes err.ee.

The income basis of the fund will also be expanded in stages and, in connetion, expenses will be transferred from the state budget to the EHIF.

"The government decided this spring to direct additional money into healthcare and start contributing additionally from the state budget to health insurance for old-age pensioners," Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) said in a press release. "The necessary amendments were approved by the Riigikogu today." As a result, he added, tens of thousands of people will receive faster access to doctors.

Currently, pensioners who are not employed do not contribute to the health insurance system, and the health insurance portion of the social tax paid for employed people must also cover the medical costs of pensioners as paid out by the EHIF. According to the bill, the government is to begin paying a monthly allocation per pensioner not in employment into the EHIF budget.

Under the national budget strategy for 2018-2021, the EHIF stands to receive €89 million in 2018, €133 million in 2019, €153 million in 2020 and €176 million in 2021 to finance the treatment of non-working pensioners and compensation of their prescription medications.

The financing of healthcare in Estonia currently depends primarily on financing linked to employment, which makes it difficult to establish a sufficient income base.

At its April 23 Cabinet meeting, the Estonian government decided to expand the EHIF's income base with an additional input of seven percent of the pensions of non-working pensioners in 2018, ten percent in 2019, 11 percent in 2020, 12 percent in 2021, and 13 percent in 2022.

The bill adopted on Wedneday also granted health insurance to monks and nuns who are members of a monastery or convent of a religious association entered into the Estonian register of religious associations.

The amendments will enter into force in stages, with changes concerning the EHIF's income base to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

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