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NGOs want public health insurance for non-EU foreigners

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Prague, Oct 30 (CTK) – Czech nongovernmental organisations called for the inclusion of non-European foreigners in the public health insurance system and they rejected the latest draft amendment to the law on foreigners on Friday.

The new amendment prepared by the Interior Ministry will only worsen the situation of immigrants from outside the European Union who must pay commercial health insurance, the NGOs said.

“Tens of thousands of foreigners have problems with the commercial health insurance. The general setting of the Czech migration policy is not good. It disadvantages foreigners and discriminates against them,” Organisation for Aid to Refugees head Martin Rozumek said.

The NGOs said the Czech state prevents the foreigners from integrating by the commercial insurance.

The Health Ministry said previously that the inclusion of foreigners in the public health insurance would rock the system and that the changes in the commercial insurance would guarantee to the immigrants the same extent of health care that Czechs receive.

Elena Tulupova, from the Consortium of Migrants Assisting Organisations, said the commercial insurance had a lot of exceptions and did not cover all health care. For example, it did not cover the treatment of diabetes, epilepsy or care for prematurely born babies, she said.

Tulupova said foreigners have a duty to pay health insurance, but a health insurance company does not have to sign a contract with them and it may terminate it. The insurance must be paid in advance for the whole period, she added.

The NGOs said migrants could join the public health insurance system after they stayed 12 months in the Czech Republic.

This would concern maximally 80,000 people.

The government dealt with the possible inclusion of immigrants in the public insurance system last year already. This step was recommended by the Ombudsman Office and some academics.

According to experts, foreigners would contribute to the public health insurance system rather than draw money from it. Research institutions warned that foreign elite brains might decide to choose other countries than the Czech Republic unless the conditions improved.

In September, 461,900 foreigners lived in the 10.5-million country, and 258,800 of them had permanent residence permits.

Migrants from non-EU countries may join the public health insurance system if they have permanent residence in the Czech Republic or if a Czech company employed them. Foreign scientists with long-term work contracts, foreigners granted asylum and some babies can be part of the public system, unlike entrepreneurs, students, husbands, wives or children of immigrants, who all must have to pay commercial insurance.

According to the report on the draft amendment, the approximate annual costs of the commercial health insurance for a pre-school child is 18,000 crowns, for a primary schools student 14,000 crowns, and for university students 11,000 crowns. Other people aged from 15 to 44 years would pay 13,000 crowns a year, people aged from 60 to 70 years 30,000 crowns and those aged over 70 years 48,000 crowns.

The Czech state will pay 10,440 crowns per child or student in 2016. A self-employed person pays minimally 21,500 crowns a year and people who earn no money pay 14,900 crowns a year.

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