Health Insurance Fund used half of additional funding during crisis ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) office.
Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) office. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa / EHIF) used approximately half of the additional €40 million funding given to it by the government for support during the coronavirus crisis. Fraudulent claims are also starting to be checked.

The fund's additional expenses totaled approximately €20 million and the biggest increase in sick leave benefits were paid out in April. Last month, the level had fallen back to almost the same as June 2019.

Earlier this year, the EHIF received additional funds from the supplementary budget for the payment of incapacity benefits for March to May totaling €40.7 million. 

Of this, €7.1 million was intended to cover the first three days of benefits - which are usually not paid by the EHIF - and €33.6 million to cover the additional costs of the pandemic.

For the additional first three days, the fund has paid out €6.8 million for sick or care leave, Evelin Trink, the head of the EHIF's public relations department, told ERR.

"The additional cost of incapacity benefits due to the spread of the virus - more sick leave was taken - is around €10 million," said Trink.

Compared to March, April and May of the previous year, 54,400 more sick notes were opened for this year than in the same period last year - 78,869 in 2019 and 133,276 in 2020, respectively.

In March the numbers were almost identical for both years.

In April, 71,696 sick notes were applied for which is 45,000 more than in 2019.

In May, there was an increase of 9,000. In June, the number of sick notes applied for dropped to the usual level of 20,000.

This April the amount of sickness benefits paid out almost tripled from €7.5 million in 2019 to €19.4 million.

Compensation of €10.3 million was paid in May and €7.6 million in June. For comparison, last June the EHIF paid €5.7 million euros in sickness benefits.

Similarly, the unemployment fund also has extra money left after the emergency situation. While €250 million were given in support by the government from March to May, only €231.7 million was paid out.

Applications are still being checked

At the beginning of June, the EHIF started checking the incapacity for work certificates issued during the emergency situation and money is being recovered from people who made fraudulent claims. To determine the results sick note data will be compared with the unemployment fund's salary benefit payment data. 

Trink said the work is ongoing and it will take a while to get the results. "It's a time-consuming undertaking - analysis of sick notes, then a check-up by a doctor - we can probably share more information in the autumn," she said.

So far, the EHIF have found more than 500 cases where the person received both the sickness benefit and salary benefit for a whole month.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund also carries out follow-up checks on all applications for sick leave. 

On the basis of the initial inspections, the remuneration of 350 people was canceled. Follow-up checks on wage compensation will last until the end of this year. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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