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Kallas wants state to buy health insurance, experts disagree

Kaja Kallas.
Kaja Kallas. Source: Sander Koit/ERR

Kaja Kallas, sole candidate for the chairmanship of the opposition Reform Party, would transform the health insurance system of Estonia in such a way that state coverage would be bought for the Estonian population from private insurance companies, weekly Eesti Ekspress wrote on Wednesday.

The government would buy private life insurance for all residents from private insurers. This insurance should cover all cases where a person needs treatment in a hospital or falls seriously ill, and include cover for high-cost drugs and operations, Kallas said.

Kallas is also proposing the establishment of a private health account that would reserve part of the social tax paid for an inidvidual by their employer for the individual's own use. That money could be used for the treatment of less severe cases, and provided that the person regularly visits a doctor.

Kallas believes that buying health insurance from private companies would be cheaper per person than under the current system. Each person would be able to choose which medical institution, state-run or private, they turn to within the framework of their insurance coverage, and this would no longer be decided by the Health Insurance Fund.

Asked by Eesti Ekspress for comment, CEO of the Health Insurance Fund Rain Laane said that while private insurance can cover the cost of less serious treatment, the national system couldn't be built on it entirely.

"In real life, insurance companies do not cover all high-cost drugs in other countries either, and an evidence-based system building on solidarity has demonstrated the best results," Laane said.

"At present there is a significant range of services in some medical specialties in private healthcare, and coverage for it on the part of the Health Insurance Fund, but waiting lists nevertheless remain because there is a shortage of professionals," Laane said.

Mart Jesse, head of the Estonian Insurance Association, said that a system based on private insurance would not be cheaper than the present one.

"Proposals like this have been made ahead of almost every election, and it is not a good idea. For a small country like Estonia an approach like the one used by the Health Insurance Fund is the most favorable without competition. Private insurance can't replace it, but it can provide additional insurance coverage," Jesse said.

"Health insurance is the most complex kind of insurance, and it's extremely naive to hope that there would be a substantial insurer somewhere in the world that would agree to offer effectively unlimited insurance coverage and enable patients to turn to the healthcare institution of their choice for a premium of reasonable size," he added.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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