Sikkut will seek additional funds for healthcare

President Karis met with with the new Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition's ministerial candidates at Kadriorg on Tuesday. April 11, 2023.
President Karis met with with the new Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition's ministerial candidates at Kadriorg on Tuesday. April 11, 2023. Source: Raigo Pajula/Office of the President

The Estonian healthcare system calls for additional funding, which will be addressed by the new minister of health and labor, Riina Sikkut (SDE), who has until the end of the year to prepare suggestions for the government.

The intention to look for ways to bring private money into healthcare, as set out in the coalition agreement, has caused anxiety in the medical field. The new minister of health and labor, Riina Sikkut (SDE), explained to ERR what is meant by this.

"During the coalition negotiations, everyone agreed that more money is needed for healthcare to maintain the current level of services, but the political parties have different views on where this money should come from. How much should be based on a public system of solidarity and how much on other alternatives. Coalition partners asked to take a broad view and consider all options, including private funding," Sikkut explained.

The minister said that her task is to propose to the government by the end of the year the ways increasing funds for healthcare.

"There is no point in speculating at this stage. Many studies have been done in on the issue of either broadening the tax base or shifting other tax revenues from the budget to the Health Insurance Fund (Tervisekassa). For example, to pay more for children or to shift disability benefits. These scenarios have been described and analysed several times, and now it is a matter of making these political decisions," Sikkut explained.

During coalition negotiations, it was determined how to gain additional funds to cover defense costs and close the budget gap. However, no decisions were made regarding other financial expenditures, such as education or health, Sikkut added.

"I am reasonably confident that a rise in social tax will not be proposed. The ways of working are changing and there are fewer and fewer people working for a single employer under a single contract. I do not see how a labor-based tax could make our healthcare funding sustainable. I would be very surprised if in conclusion this tax would turn out to be a sensible solution," she said.

The emergence of a new type of private insurance is also unlikely, Sikkut added.

"There is currently no agreement to implement private insurance. Personally, I do not see what the Estonian [healthcare] system could gain from it. However, when examining financing choices my job will be to keep private insurance in the picture, not to dismiss it," the new health and labor minister said. "The political decision will be made by the end of the year," she added.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Kristina Kersa

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