It is unlikely that the additional 100 million euros needed for the Estonian Health Insurance Fund can be found in the state budget in either 2017 or 2018, Estonia's Minister of Health and Labor Jevgeni Ossinovski said on Tuesday.
Speaking regarding next year at a meeting of the Riigikogu's Social Affairs Committee, Ossinovski said that there was nowhere to fit the additional 100 million euros needed into next year's budget, and that there probably wouldn't be the year after next either. He added that this amount of money would be necessary as soon as possible.
The minister stated that he has proposed the state pay medical insurance for retired people or take various compensations out of the budget of the Health Insurance Fund. Eliminating maternity pay would allow savings of 40 million euros while eliminating sick pay would allow the insurance fund to save 100 million euros, he said.
Eliminating the need to pay these two benefits would only postpone the problems related to the financing of the Health Insurance Fund, however, as it would do nothing to address the change in the country's demographics.
The solution to this, he continued, would be for the state to make health insurance contributions for pensioners.
The supervisory board of the Health Insurance Fund is scheduled to convene on Wednesday in order to discuss the management board's proposals on what to do in a situation where the fund finished the first half of the year with a much bigger deficit than planned.
Ossinovski said that while he won't disclose any of the proposals beforehand out of respect for the fund and members of its supervisory board, the topic having become the center of public attention enables things to be done that have long been in the making but couldn't be implemented sooner.
The Health Insurance Fund's revenue increased 7 percent to 510.9 million euros during the first six months of 2016, while operating costs grew 11 percent to 543.8 million euros, making for a deficit totaling almost 33 million euros, or 14.5 million euros bigger than expected.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla