Continued health insurance fund overruns would deplete reserve in five years
The Estonian Health Insurance Fund's budget has been in the negative for years already and is set to finish this year nearly 25 million euros in the red as well, a deficit which will be covered from the reserve.
The Health Insurance Fund's budget as of 2016 is nearly one billion euros and is set to grow rapidly in the coming years, at a pace of nearly 66 million years, reaching 1.3 billion euros in four years, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."
Were the fund to continue with its current financial model and commitments, its budget would continue to run at a large deficit, and according to Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE), at the current rate reserves would be depleted in five years at the most. Thus it is up to the new government coalition to find a solution before reserves are run dry.
"We have agreed in the new government that we will have a long-time plan agreed upon by next year's state budget preparation period, i.e. by April," said Ossinovski.
The minister had a number of ideas on how to inject more money into healthcare. One option would be to cover pensioners' health insurance costs from the state budget, meaning that the state itself would essentially pay the social tax for them. This would mean an additional 100 to 120 million euros in costs from the state budget.
Another of Ossinovski's ideas would be to transfer the sick leave system from the Health Insurance Fund to the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
The Ministry of Finance has proposed working out a demographic formula based upon which the Health Insurance Fund is granted additional funds based upon the decrease in the working-age population.
Minister of Finance Sven Sester (IRL) noted that the government must eventually adopt a decision which must in turn be followed by a follow-up decision regarding where to take the money from to cover the deficit in the state budget in ten or more years.
"And there are two options for this, either to reduce costs or new potential tax hikes," Sester concluded.