Monday, 21 April 2014

NGOs back public health insurance for legal immigrants

ČTK |
3 October 2012

Prague, Oct 2 (CTK) - The Czech consortium of NGOs working with immigrants and the Nesehnuti organisation launched yesterday a campaign in support of including immigrants with a long-time residence permit in public health insurance, Linda Janku, from Nesehnuti, said yesterday.

Some 150,000 legal immigrants from countries outside the EU must have commercial insurance to be granted the residence permit, but it only covers a small range of health care.

It does not include the treatment of diabetes, epilepsy and psychiatric diseases, among others.

"Our goal is a legislative change that will redirect means from the insurance paid by the immigrants, most of which now end up as profits of private commercial health insurance companies, to the system of public health insurance where they would be spent on the payment of health care," Janku said.

Elena Tulupova, from the consortium, said the government approved in February 2012 a resolution under which it should submit a new legislation on foreigners' health care insurance by the year's end.

She said the amendment to the foreigner law that introduced comprehensive insurance has not improved immigrants' situation.

The amendment to the public health insurance law in which the Health Ministry wanted to solve immigrants' health insurance has been rejected by the Finance Ministry and Economic Chamber.

"They said it provided for undesirable solidarity and that the immigrants would not pay the insurance," Tulupova said.

According to the consortium's analysis, five commercial health insurance companies collected 870 million crowns from immigrants last year, of which the companies gave 192 million crowns to health care while 547 million went to their overhead costs and profit.

"A mere average of 20 percent of collected insurance goes to health care," Karolina Dobiasova, from Charles University who participated in the analysis, said.

She said commercial insurance companies are blocking a solution to the issue trying to keep these clients as the most profitable.

The law has given the companies a number of exceptions. They, for instance, are not obliged to insure TB, cancer and AIDS patients, children with congenital defects and prematurely born children, and they claim higher payments from seniors and pregnant women, Dobiasova said.

Immigrants must sign the insurance policies and pay for the whole stay in advance while the money is not returned to them if they are granted permanent residence that entitles them title to public health insurance.

The consortium will submit the legal analysis to the foreigners' rights committee of the Government Human Rights Council on October 22.

It also wants to acquaint the state administration and public with it at public seminars. The document will also be available at www.zdravotnipojistenimigrantu.cz.

($1=19.47O crowns)

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