Karins emphasizes straightening out of hospital network and introduction of health insurance

  • 2023-02-14
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - In regards to healthcare, it is necessary to straighten out the network of hospitals and introduce one of the health insurance models, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said today during a Saeima Budget and Finance (Tax) Committee meeting.

Minister of Health Liga Mengelsone is working on a plan to improve the efficiency of the healthcare system, and the minister will need support in the Saeima to achieve both that and to improve the way healthcare is financed, explained Karins.

This issue was brought up at the meeting by opposition MP Viktors Valainis (Greens/Farmers), who pointed out that the implementation of the healthcare financing model has been postponed for four years and that it is the government's responsibility to sort out this area. Valainis emphasized that for the time being, as long as there is a crisis in the field of healthcare and a financing solution has not yet been found, it would be possible for Latvia to finance healthcare more by increasing the deficit.

Karins answered that, although borrowing sounds tempting, the remaining opportunity to borrow in international markets in crisis situations should not be used up now.

The Prime Minister noted that even after the allocation of additional funding, the efficiency of the healthcare system has not improved enough and that he had fought with the previous two ministers of health in this case, who were not ready to carry out systemic improvements on an adequate scale. It has been argued to Karins that the problem is a lack of money, but the head of the government emphasized that the healthcare budget has already doubled, which shows that money cannot solve everything.

The politician pointed out that the physical network of the healthcare system has not been effectively created. ''In the country, we pretend that some kind of service is available in many hospitals, although in practice it is not available there,'' explained Karins. The Prime Minister pointed out that everyone knows that there are some hospitals where the specific specialist goes to take a nap - it is officially considered that the specialist is on the spot, but in reality people cannot receive the operation or medical service because support personnel are also needed.

Since ''on paper'' the relevant medical facility is considered appropriate for the specific service, after the patient has been brought by the Emergency Medical Service staff, the patient is "marinated" there for six to 12 hours, until it is established that they will not be able to provide adequate help, and then this person is taken to the nearest relevant regional hospital, explained the politician. The previous health minister refused to forward the relevant improvement plan to the Saeima, the prime minister said.

Karins noted that patients abroad are often transported 100 or more kilometers and no one complains about it, because the most important thing for the patient is receiving quality services.

As another problem, Karins mentioned that residents of Latvia pay for compatriots who living abroad when they come to receive healthcare services in Latvia. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce a health insurance system similar to, for example, Norway, where at the beginning you have to work for a certain period in order to be included in the health insurance system.