The government has allocated over €213 million to the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) towards health costs incurred by the coronavirus pandemic. The government approved the sum Thursday, as part of the supplementary budget drawn up in response to the crisis.
"The treatment of people with COVID-19 and raising the preparedness of healthcare institutions for a potential major outbreak of the disease have both caused additional extraordinary expenses for our healthcare," Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said, according to BNS.
"With the additional funds we will support the work of hospitals, doctors, ambulance crews, nurses and other healthcare workers. We will also be able to compensate people for the first three days of illness, in order to make it possible for patients to remain in isolation immediately they fall ill, plus for their income to be guaranteed to as large an extent as possible in the current complex economic situation," he went on.
Hospitals in Estonia have been buying additional equipment, including ventilators, to get things up to speed in the pandemic, while in some cases construction work has been necessary.
Expenses on medicines, personal protective equipment, disinfectants and waste processing have also increased significantly during the same period.
€2.1 million has been earmarked for boosting stocks of medicines in hospitals, BNS reports.
Almost €40.7 million of this is to go on work incapacity benefits, and €172.5 million is earmarked for covering healthcare system expenses, ministry spokespersons said.
The largest portion of additional funds, approximately €150 million is to go on hospitals and specialist medical care, and is first and foremost related to the costs of the increase in the intensive care capacities at hospitals, covering personnel and treatment costs alike, BNS reports.
Regarding first contact medical care, additional coronavirus costs' compensation will come to €7.8 million, including costs related to the operation of on-duty family doctor centers, services for off-list patients at family doctors, provision of emergency care to uninsured persons, personal protective equipment (PPE) acquisition and additional costs related to 1220, the family doctor helpline.
Additional costs in nursing care amount to €7.5 million, and in the ambulance service to €5.1 million.
A total of €40.7 million will be paid out to finance benefits for incapacity for work during the period between the start of the emergency situation and the end of May.
The Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) will pay for the first to third day of illness retroactively, for sick leave certificates opened from March 13, until the end of the emergency situation.
The fund will pay sickness benefit of 70 percent of average income, with the average wage per calendar day calculated on the basis of the Health Insurance Act, BNS reports.
The regulation takes effect retroactively from March 13.
Editor: Andrew Whyte