A bill of amendments passed its first reading in the Riigikogu that will allow the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) to conclude direct contracts with psychologist practices for the funding of psychotherapy services, thus improving access to mental healthcare in Estonia.
The changes to be made with the passing of the bill of amendments to the Mental Health Act and the Health Services Organization Act are necessary to changing the current funding model for psychotherapy, according to a Ministry of Social Affairs press release.
Among the changes involved, psychological treatment will be added as a new category of healthcare service, a licensing requirement will be introduced for providers of psychological care, and clinical psychologists will be counted as equivalent to healthcare professionals. This will allow clinical psychologists' businesses interested in providing services independently from a doctor to acquire an activity license and start independently providing psychological treatment with doctors' referrals.
Health insurance-funded psychological treatment will continue to be available via doctor referral, and mental health issues and behavioral disorders will continue to be diagnosed by doctors and psychiatrists. Clinical psychological care already being offered via family medicine practices and hospitals will be able to continue as currently operating.
The deadline for proposed changes to the bill is May 26.
Editor: Aili Vahtla