The financing of long-term care requires agreements in Estonian society, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said in his remarks at a conference on care for the elderly earlier this week.
"Our population is aging, therefore we must give serious consideration to all potential solutions and evaluate their sustainability. On the one hand we have to improve the accessibility of care services, including increase the volumes of services and expand the circle of those entitled to receive them. On the other hand, we wish to reduce the burden on the people in care and their families and the the share that they must pay for the service themselves. For this we need to direct additional money into the field, and hence it is important to talk things out together -- who must contribute how much," the Center Party minister said.
According to tentative estimates, some €150 million is needed additionally per year to modernize the organization of long-term care.
The minister said that three options are currently being examined.
"It is possible to go on with the current need-based solution where a person pays for the service as much as as they are able to, while the partnership of the state and municipalities in ensuring the accessibility and quality of care services will increase. The second option is to set it out in law what is the share to be paid by the person and what by the public sector. The third option is to establish a solidarity-based system of long-term care insurance," Kiik said on Tuesday.
"In addition, we definitely need to review how big a portion of the cost of the service should be borne by family members of the person in need of care. It is important to keep in mind that paying for the service must under no circumstances put next-of-kin in coping difficulty," he said.
The Ministry of Social Affairs convened workgroups earlier this year to think it out together with experts in social sphere what the organization of long-term care should be like in Estonia.
One of the tasks is to make existing services function reasonably and logically for the people in need of long-term care. At present care services are financed by municipalities, the Social Insurance Board and the Health Insurance Fund. For the person in need of the service the system is fragmented and necessary services are not always available well enough.
According to a survey, about 65,000 people across Estonia helped or cared for another member of their household in 2016.
The Cabinet in June discussed proposals for updating the organization of long-term care and policies related to people with special needs, submitted by the minister of social affairs.
Modernization of the system is aimed to further develop care services supporting living at home, offer more support to people taking care of a family member and review the financing of social services at municipalities, including the share that residents must pay themselves.
The government tasked the Ministry of Social Affairs with coming up with specific proposals in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance on how to finance the modernization of the policy concerning the organization of long-term care and people with special needs.
Editor: Helen Wright