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Latvian minister proposes small compulsory fee for health insurance system

Ilze Viņķele/flickr.com
Healthcare Minister Ilze Viņķele proposes implementing a small compulsory fee for residents who are not insured. This basically means adoption of a unified healthcare service basket in Latvia, the politician says.

Although the decision has been made to add changes to the state health insurance system together with tax reform review in 2021, the conceptual offer is ready. According to Viņķele, this fee will ensure all employed people will pay social insurance fees at 1% of social insurance fees from minimal wages. As minimal wages rise so will the fee, added the minister.

She says it is planned to expand the list of state insured people with third group invalids and people taking care of first and second group invalids.

According to the minister, there will be a small group of people that will not join the insurance system. These people may include married couples in which one supports the other or people that life off capital income. These people will have to pay state insurance fee of EUR 51 at the beginning of the year.

Viņķele says that even the World Health Organization supports adoption of a small compulsory fee to ensure as many people as possible join the health insurance system.

The minister explains that people who do not immediately join the insurance system will receive a notification regarding the fee. People who do not pay the fee will be able to receive healthcare services if need be regardless. Currently the offer provides that if a person fails to perform payment of the compulsory fee but ends up in a situation when he needs state-funded healthcare, he will be provided with the service and reminded that he needs to pay the fee.

Viņķele said the unpaid insurance fees will accumulate as debt, but it will not prevent people from accessing healthcare services.

The minister adds that collection of unpaid fees will be performed by the State Revenue Service or National Health Service, not healthcare service providers. According to her, this idea is supported by doctors and medical institutions.

Viņķele said that with the adoption of a new system experts are hard at work resolving different technicalities. For example, work is being done in cooperation with State Revenue Service and Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs to ensure compatibility of databases.

The minister also says next week it is planned to submit to the Cabinet of Ministers amendments to the Medical Treatment Financing Law to extend the previously postponed adoption of the two-basket system until January 2021.

She also said that she asked the government to decide quickly, but she respects Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s desire to perform audits in alternative tax regimes.

Viņķele adds that she is not satisfied with the temporary solution, commenting that when compared to the two-basket system this one is the «lesser of two evils».

As it is known, changes to the state health insurance are planned to be implemented together with the tax reform’s review in 2021. This means health insurance system’s improvements have to be postponed for one year.


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