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Government begins health policy distribution

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, July 17
The larger the state budget, the more money must be spent on people, Zurab Tchiaberashvili Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, told the pensioners in Poti. On the first day of distributing health insurance polices, Tchiaberashvili said the number of people insured in Georgia would soon exceed 2 million. “Our main goal is to constantly increase the number of insured people,” he said, stressing that everyone should feel the results of the country’s development.

Minister Tchiaberashvili said that if today 900, 000 people (socially unprotected people, teachers, soldiers and policemen) use the state insurance, there would be 1 million more insured pensioners, disabled people, small children and students from September, 2012 when the new insurance would come into effect.

The new insurance is designed not only for pensioners, but also children between the ages of 0 – 5. Students will receive their insurance policies via the Georgian Post.

The Healthcare Minister said that the new hospitals in the country were built for ordinary people, so that everyone should be able to afford to visit a doctor in time to avoid further health complications after illness. He explained that when President Mikheil Saakashvili initiated the health insurance, his main target was to assist each and every family in any way that he can.

Tchiaberashvili said the government is very thoughtful about the problems people are facing all around the country. He said that healthcare-related issues remain the one of the most important issues for Georgian society, that’s why he hoped that the new health insurance would be “a great support for every family.”

The new state insurance will cover emergency services, professional consultations, ambulance treatment, diagnostic analyses, planned or urgent surgery, as well as other hospital service expenses. The Minister advised everyone to regularly visit doctors even for the slightest headache. He said it is better to know the diagnosis from the very beginning because it would be harmful for the family and costly for the state to cover the expenses later.

Tchiaberashvili spoke of cancer and heart disease as the two most widespread and expensive diseases in the country– especially after the stressful years of 1990s. He also said that instead of a 12, 000 GEL limit for operations, 15, 000 GEL will be issued for operations and post-hospital treatment instead. He said that although the government is working to decrease the prices on medicines, they still “stroke” the family budgets. Thus, every socially unprotected pensioner will be refunded their medical costs up to GEL 100.

Ramaz Sulamanidze, Director of the Social Service Agency, said the new health insurance is different from all the previous versions, as it includes services which had not previously been considered before.

On July 16, pensioners had an opportunity to receive their healthcare insurance policies at the regional offices of Liberty Bank together with their monthly pensions. But visiting one of the offices of the bank in Batumi, President Saakashvili discouraged the bank for its long lines. He said the government is aware of the poverty in Batumi.

He said that if on the one hand there is a tourist boom, on the other hand, the prices on products are high for the local people and promised to take the relevant measures to avoid such inequality. He said the new government would sign an agreement with every family so that they will receive everything the state has promised them in the following four- years.

To avoid the queues, Liberty Bank will work from 8:00 to 20:00 for a couple of days so that more pensioners could receive their insurance policies without waiting in the heat.