Foreign nationals should have more options for registering with family doctors in Estonia, under a social affairs ministry proposal, news portal Delfi reports.
"We are aiming to solve a long-term problem in which foreign nationals working in Estonia on the basis of a temporary residence permit, or a right of residence permit, who are paying social tax, have not been able to register on family doctors' lists," Heli Paluste, head of the ministry's health network, told Delfi (link in Estonian).
This would include even those who do not have health insurance, if they are prepared to pay for family doctors' services themselves, Paluste added.
The Health Insurance Board (Haigekassa) will pay for treatment for those foreign nationals who are covered by the state, meaning those who pay social taxes via their employers, or themselves if they are self-employed, while, Paluste noted, under the terms of the Aliens Act, those in Estonia on temporary employment contracts or who want to extend their stay are required to take out their own health insurance.
Paluste noted that according to the Aliens Act, aliens who come to Estonia temporarily to work or wish to extend their stay in Estonia have an obligation to take out health insurance or must obtain an employer for this employee in order to obtain a residence permit in Estonia.
Alternatively, employers can obtain a residence permit for their employee.
The draft bill, which would amend legislation including the Health Care Services Organization Act if it were to pass at the Riigikogu, would also permit hospitals to treat foreign nationals temporarily without registration on a family doctor's list.
It would also raise the maximum ceiling of family doctor's list numbers, provided the availability and quality of service is maintained, to accommodate any growth in numbers of people requiring registration.
The Health Insurance Fund's English-language page containing information on how to register with a family doctor (Estonian: perearst) is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte