Peep Peterson: Let’s end the silence on the health care funding debate

Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE)
Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE)

There is one core problem in health care financing and health insurance – both the structure of the population and the ways of working have changed compared to 1990. Instead of a permanent, years-long employment contract, there is more temporary project work, self-employment, small business and other flexible forms of work. At the same time, the proportion of elderly people in the population has increased and the need for treatment has increased, as well as the possibilities of health care to help people have made a significant technological leap. This is how these tensions between needs and opportunities become more and more acute.

The situation is not unexpected, the trends have been recognized since the beginning of the 2000s – different institutions have reached the same conclusions in the analyzes published over the last 15 years. In the spring of 2021, the Ministry of Social Affairs presented the government with an analysis and proposals for the sustainability of healthcare financing. The proposals were discussed with partners in the health sector, employers and trade unions. However, fundamental political decisions have not been reached.

The decision during the time of Yevgeni Ossinovski to allocate money for health insurance for non-working pensioners and the decision in 2020 to support the health insurance fund with more than 100 million euros every year to alleviate the crisis have helped to prevent the reduction of the availability of help, but this is not enough to expand and strengthen the foundation of health insurance in the future. The additional financing will expire in 2025 and will automatically lead to a deterioration of the position worth more than EUR 100 million.

We don’t have time to continue with just analyzes and scenario descriptions. The Riigikogu, which will be elected in the spring, must already in its first years of work decide how to keep aid available to people, regardless of their income and place of residence.

The coalition agreement of the government formed in the summer did not set an ambitious plan for the health sector for the short period before the election. My wish as minister is to warm up the analyzes done so far and supplement them with new data and knowledge together with health and economic experts and the parties in the sector. People need to be sure of medical care. Taking into account the experiences of the COVID crisis, I want to arrive at the options at the beginning of the year through public discussions, between which the Riigikogu, which will be elected in the spring, and the government that will take office will make their choice. Strengthening the carrying capacity of health insurance cannot wait any longer.

Source: Lääne Elu by

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