Health Insurance Fund to run at deficit in 2021 to account for COVID-19 ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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

The Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) has been permitted to go into the red for 2021, for the first time ever, largely the result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Riho Peek, head of the Health Insurance Fund's finance department, said that 2021 had been an extraordinary year. 

He said: "In the past, the Health Insurance Fund has had to end the year with balanced revenues and expenses."

This would not be the case for 2021 due to the extra costs incurred by the pandemic at a time when social tax receipts have fallen, and taking into account the effects of the second COVID-19 wave from October last year.

This should also allow for scheduled treatments to continue in 2021; during the 2020 initial coronavirus wave in springtime, the bulk of scheduled treatments had been canceled.

The fund's budget for 2021 will be €1.7 billion, a 6 percent rise on year.

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) says the state will allocate €143 million to the Health Insurance fund.

Kiik said: "I very much hope that, with the help of restrictions, vaccinations and the wise behavior on the part of the people, we will be able to control the situation by the spring.

"This will provide scheduled treatment for most of the year in full. The aim of the Health Insurance Fund budget has been to provide at least the same amount of medical care in 2021 as would have been the case had the coronavirus pandemic not happened in 2020," Kiik added.

The fund received government support twice in 2020 as the virus spread, at a time when social tax receipts fell as the economic effects of the virus made themselves felt.

Planned treatments suspended in 2020 included funds for children's dental care, as well as around eight percent of funds originally set aside for specialist medial care.

Riho Peek said that while health care service provision will be boosted, this will be to the amount of €60 million, rather than the little-over-€100 million at first glance, since €40 million is being earmarked for the purchase of personal protective equipment.

Additionally, cancer screening and care, including for those who do not have health insurance, is to be expanded, while nursing home care – many coronavirus outbreaks have taken place in care homes – and family doctors' IT capabilities, will also be improved.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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