Health Insurance Fund plans to allocate €26.5 million for COVID-19 expenses ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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

The Health Insurance Fund discussed taking €26.5 million from its reserve capital to help cover COVID-19 costs at its regular supervisory board meeting on Friday. Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik is set to make a corresponding proposal to the government.

The reserve capital is to be used to cover coronavirus expenses of healthcare service providers, vaccination labor costs and medicines.

"The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has presented difficult and unforeseen challenges for healthcare service providers that have come with considerable expenses. Using reserve capital makes it possible to cover specialist medical care wages in wards that treat COVID-19 patients, third stage ICUs and emergency rooms," Kiik explained.

The minister said doctors' overtime pay will also be compensated as a lot of medical workers have fallen ill and people are forced to work longer hours.

"The decision also aims to boost the capacity of the COVID-19 hotline to refer people for testing and compensate family medicine centers for working outside usual hours and hiring additional labor if a family doctor or nurse has taken ill or been ordered to isolate. Reserve capital will also allow us to procure COVID-19 medicines and pay for vaccination," Tanel Kiik said.

Reserve capital totals €86 million

The reserve capital is regulated by the Health Insurance Fund Act. The reserve is formed from budget funds and aimed at managing fiscal risks caused by macroeconomic changes.

The reserve capital makes up 5.4 percent of the fund's budget volume and is usually formed based on undistributed total net gain of previous periods.

The Health Insurance Fund's reserve capital can only be used under extraordinary circumstances and requires a government decision.

The reserve capital totals €86 million of which €26.5 will be used. Member of the board in charge of financial affairs Pille Banhard said that use of reserves is always very carefully considered.

"We know that tax receipt will miss forecasts, while healthcare costs remain high due to COVID-19, which is why we need the additional resources," Banhard said.

She added that the effects of vaccination and the advent of spring and summer should cause the disease to retreat. "This will in turn help the economy recovery gradually," she added.

The Health Insurance Fund will have to restore its reserve capital pursuant to the law in 2022.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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