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Work ability reform: inadequate e-health information system remains issue

People speaking to a specialist at an EUIF office. Photo is illustrative.
People speaking to a specialist at an EUIF office. Photo is illustrative. Source: (EUIF)

In the course of Estonia's work ability reform, people with disabilities have disputed less than five percent of work ability evaluations, but an inadequate e-health information system remains a large stumbling block in the work ability evaluation process.

While the Chamber of Disabled People admitted that the beginning of the reform has been intense for everyone, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund (EUIF) has managed with their work. Insufficient data in the country' e-health system remains a big problem, however, as expert doctors are frequently unable to adequately evaluate people's work ability as a result, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

Estonian Chamber of Disabled People chief executive Anneli Habicht said that as regards to cases of insufficient data, the situation is even worse than feared. "In about half of cases, the EUIF must submit additional inquiries directly to doctors regarding health information as the information in the health information system isn't sufficient," she said. "For our people, this means that decisions are delayed, which means time costs, resource costs, anxiety, etc."

Which is why the chamber is calling on everyone who is to have their work ability evaluated underline at their doctor's appointment the necessity of all data in the e-health system.

Two bills have been drawn up by the Ministry of Social Affairs which should help individuals with reduced capacity for work who are continuing their education as well as those individuals whose evaluation procedures have been delayed, causing them to be left without support.

"That is the state's problem if the state has been unable make its decisions in time and people should not have to suffer as a result," said Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski. "As a result, we plan on amending the law so that if someone has submitted their application in time, they will continue to receive support until a new decision is reached, regardless of how long that takes."

The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Chamber of Disabled People signed a declaration of common intent on Tuesday, and the chamber may be able to begin offering its members specialized work ability-related counseling as soon as the end of this summer. In the first three months of the year, the EUIF has made 10,000 work ability decisions, and many people have found work in various fields.

"If we look at last year's figures, it can be said that every second person with reduced capacity for work found work within one year of registering themselves as unemployed, with every third person finding work within six months, and work has been found in very different walks of life and different fields," highlighted EUIF board member Pille Liimal.

The EUIF believes that the work ability reform has more difficult times ahead yet as those with reduced capacity for work who have been absent from the labor market for a longer period of time begin to look for work.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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