The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) has been in a hurry to get public contracts signed for specialist services, as according to contract conditions, the new contractual partners should have begun fulfilling their contractual obligations as of 1 October. The health fund has not been forthright with the public about the number of contracts already concluded, however.
While the Ministry of Finance warned last Friday that Haigekassa may not sign a single specialist services contract until disputes regarding their legality had been settled, Haigekassa announced that half of 98 contracts involved in the €46 million medical treatment procurement had already been concluded.
At a press conference held on Monday, 1 October, Haigekassa spoke of 66 concluded contracts. These contractual partners are also already listed on a map of Haigekassa-partnered specialists displayed on the health fund's homepage, implying that it should be possible as of 1 October for patients to make appointments at the private clinics now partnered with the fund.
In reality, however, the Haigekassa homepage also those service providers who have not yet signed contracts. It was revealed, upon asking, that by the morning of the 1 October deadline, just five contracts had been concluded with specialists — which is unsurprising, considering Haigekassa only began sending out contracts to its new partners last Friday at 17:00 EEST.
This means, however, that Haigekassa has not been forthright with the public in claiming that over half of contracts had been concluded already.
Haigekassa board member Maivi Parv explained that the health fund's homepage also reflects those partners with whom contracts are still in the process of being concluded.
"We expect that these contracts will be signed," Parv said, explaining why the Haigekassa lists an inflated number of contractual partners on its homepage.
The private Medita Clinic, for example, which previously operated in Tartu and has received a Haigekassa contract for the provision of services, does not even have an office for accepting patients in Tallinn yet, which is evidently why they are interested in prolonging the signing process as long as possible. This means, however, that they aren't accepting patients yet.
Finance Ministry: Contracts null and void
The Ministry of Finance on Friday found that the Haigekassa contracts are null and void, and thus they should not be signed, but Haigekassa nonetheless forwarded the contracts to its new contractual partners for signing on Friday evening.
Parv said that this category of procurements is new for the Ministry of Finance, which is why, in Haigekassa's opinion, the ministry hasn't interpreted it correctly.
"Our lawyers said that this is a matter of interpretation," Parv said regarding the ministry's assessment, adding that all concluded contracts remain valid.
A total of 29 disputes have reached the Public Procurement Review Committee, 17 of which are currently still pending, which is why the Ministry of Finance is of the opinion that contracts may not be concluded regarding undisputed services either.
Editor: Aili Vahtla