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Health Minister: high-income citizens not to get free medical services from state

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 17
Georgia’s Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs says new criteria has been activated in the state-led Universal Healthcare Program from now, according to which around 32,000 high-income citizens will not receive free medical services from the state, as was possible before.

Davit Sergeenko, the Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, says that differentiated packages will be launched for Universal Healthcare Program beneficiaries.

The Minister said that around 32,000 high-income citizens, whose annual income exceeds 40,000 Gel, will no longer be included in the state-led healthcare program.

However, Sergeenko went on to say that some groups of beneficiaries such as children under five years, pensioners, students, teachers, persons with disabilities and socially vulnerable people will enjoy more benefits, like access to free ambulatory medicaments and using the State Universal Program and private insurance at the same time, which is not available to the other groups of people.

“Such targeted groups include around 1,7million people,” Sergeenko added.

In late February Sergeenko announced that the Ministry was renewing the database of the program, which had not been updated since 2013.

He said this step would help both state and private insurance companies to manage better their finances as well as to offer higher-quality services to the patients.

The changes became even more necessary after the Minister announced that people using private insurance would no longer be able to get benefits from the state.

Previously, all Georgian citizens - insured or not - had access to the Universal Healthcare Program, which increased the state funding in this sector.

Earlier, Sergeenko stated that not all clinics will be allowed to be involved in the Universal Healthcare Program.

He said selective contracting would come into force, which means that the Ministry will co-operate only with high-standard hospitals and clinics which meet certain criteria.

The Universal Healthcare Program was launched in February 2013 in order to serve all non-insured individuals who live in Georgia.

The government made changes to the Program in September 2014.

The changes mean that medical aid for the pensioners, children under five years of age, students and persons with disabilities will be administered by the state instead of private insurance companies.

Moreover, for the group of people mentioned above, the general waiting time for planned surgeries decreased from four months to two months.

The changes also enabled the recipients to choose which clinic they prefer to be treated at, instead of choosing from a short list offered by private insurance companies.