The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF) updating its Estonian-language name from Haigekassa to Tervisekassa was a fundamental and necessary change in Estonian healthcare, EHIF CEO Rain Laane said, noting that the fund's goal is to maintain and restore people's health, not just pay medical bills.
In the final step of a more gradual change, on April 1, the EHIF officially updated its name from Haigekassa — which translates literally as "Sickness Fund" to Tervisekassa — or "Health Fund."
"EHIF's name change has raised some questions and caused some confusion for people, but we believe that it is a fundamental and necessary change in Estonian healthcare," Laane said according to a press release, adding that the name change is related to the goal of emphasizing the end result of the fund's activities.
"EHIF is not a passive payer of treatment invoices, but rather supports the provision of health services and paying for them in a comprehensive, person-centered way, valuing the health outcome," he explained.
People's health outcomes are affected by the availability of good medical care according to societal needs as well as of integrated treatment, in which the treatment process is smooth for the individual and transitions from one healthcare facility to another are organized in good cooperation between various institutions and specialties.
In recent years, Estonia's state health fund has directed increasing amounts of funding into disease prevention as well as the promotion of health, such as cancer screenings, chronic disease monitoring, expanded school-based healthcare and exams for children and their parents, free flu vaccines. It has also placed a greater emphasis on integrated care pathways and e-solutions.
According to Laane, over the last five years, EHIF has also taken on a number of public health-related tasks likewise better reflected by its new Estonian name, including procurement of pharmaceuticals necessary for infectious disease control, compensation for vaccine damages as well as prevention and treatment services for substance use disorders.
"In short, we're increasingly focusing on how to ensure that people stay in good health longer, feel good and need less [care by] doctors or do so in increasingly later years," he said.
At the same time, work remains ongoing to find solutions to the resource shortages already present in Estonian healthcare, the CEO continued, acknowledging the problem.
"This is so that, in the future, it will be possible to ensure high quality and timely medical care for everyone in Estonia financed through common tax funds," Laane explained. "But as a society, we also have to realize that the responsibility for health doesn't rest solely on a doctor or EHIF but rather starts with each of us. We have the freedom to consume, eat and work, but also the responsibility to do so in ways that will ensure our health remains good even in decades to come."
The Estonian name Tervisekassa had already been under consideration at the time EHIF was established in 1990-1991. At the time, however, it was ultimately decided in favor of the name Haigekassa instead, which historically had been in earlier use already.
EHIF spokesperson Sander Rajamäe previously confirmed to ERR News that the name change will not affect the fund's English-language name, which will remain the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
Editor: Aili Vahtla