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Cheap insurance programme being implemented slowly

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 14
For a couple of months the Georgian authorities have been intensively promoting the cheap insurance programme, which entitles a policy holder to basic insurance against accidents and to emergency treatment for only GEL 5. President Saakashvili suggested that by June 30 a million people would have such a policy, but since March 1 when the project was launched just a little more than 10,000 people have been insured.

Minister of Health Sandro Kvitashvili says that the low takeup can be explained by badly planned PR, as people think that only GEL 5 needs to be paid whereas in reality the policy provides 60 lari worth of insurance, out which the state pays 41.4 GEL and the policyholder 18.6 GEL. The Minister is optimistic that the population will be more active in May and June.

Chairman of the Insurance Association board Devi Khechinashvili thinks that the average citizen spends approximately GEL 900 on healthcare issues annually. Emergency treatment however is a heavy burden for the vulnerable layers of the population. The Government’s cheap insurance programme entitles the holder to basic laboratory analyses twice a year, but this may not be enough to prevent emergencies occurring.

Some independent experts are rather skeptical about the cheap insurance programme, suggesting that insurance companies themselves are not happy to issue half a million insurance policies because if a large proportion of these policy holders apply for assistance the companies may go bankrupt. The cheap insurance policy would supposedly be most popular with people who have low income and suffer from malnutrition, whose health is already in a very bad condition, so experts suggest that this cheap insurance programme is primarily a PR exercise rather than something designed to provide real care for the population.

Most of the insurance companies say that they can insure around 50,000 people each. Ten insurance companies are participating in this programme, however it is unlikely that all the insurance companies will be able to insure the required number of people and provide them with assistance.