Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) told Vikerraadio on Tuesday that the government is discussing the possibilities of recovering medical costs from unvaccinated people and moving them down scheduled treatment queues, but she distanced herself from the proposals on Wednesday and added that the government does not consider them realistic.
"I have been presented different proposals to avoid overburdening hospitals and maintaining scheduled treatments. There are some, where the state would recover COVID-19 treatment costs from unvaccinated people and some where unvaccinated people would move down treatment queues. I emphasize that these examples are theoretical and the government does not deem them realistic," Kallas wrote on social media.
The prime minister echoed the words of Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center), who was in the studio for Tuesday's ETV daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" and said the Estonian healthcare system is solidary and no distinctions will be made between those in need.
Kallas said everyone has the right to medical treatment. "But the situation's seriousness is reflected in these ideas even coming up. Each COVID-19 hospital bed comes at the expense of the people who have waited for a certain process for a long time," the prime minister said.
She added that she is in favor of keeping society and schools open and considers it important for the economy and culture to operate. "I support the police monitoring coronavirus certificate usage and mask-wearing more than before," Kallas said.
The prime minister noted that temporary restrictions for unvaccinated people will still have to be made in entertainment and leisure.
What were her initial statements?
On Vikerraadio's monthly interview show "Stuudios on peaminister" on Tuesday, Kallas pointed out one option of restrictions for people who have not gotten vaccinated against the coronavirus. "One proposal is that if people go to the hospital, doctors must help them. If things get bad and we must start restricting scheduled treatments, surgeries, for example, then unvaccinated people will move down the queue. And treatments are limited at their expense," she said.
"If we think of the spring, the scientific council said infections will decrease if all schools are closed. But nothing happened. And then the scientific council came to the government and said that does not help, either. It is hard to make decisions in the midst of this mess of recommendations," the prime minister added.
She said there are other options and these have been discussed in the government. "If more than 70 percent of the people that get seriously ill and more than 90 percent of the people that die are unvaccinated, we must focus on them. We must limit their movements so they would not get infected. We have locations that ask for COVID-19 certificates and where you can go with a test, we would lose the option of getting in with a test. You could only enter with vaccination certificates," Kallas said.
The prime minister said there are also solutions, which involve positive motivations. An example of this would be to support care homes, where the vaccination rate of workers and residents has exceeded 90 percent.
"We are also discussing if the Health Insurance Act allows for the recovery of medical expenses in certain cases. If vaccines have been made available to people, but they do not use them and fall ill, is it possible to recover the costs," Kallas said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste