Health insurance requirements raise concern

  • 2005-04-13
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - Lithuanian and Russian diplomats met in Vilnius last month to discuss problems affecting Russian citizens, now that Lithuania demands health-insurance policies from incoming foreigners.

According to a Foreign Ministry press release, the politicians accentuated that, first and foremost, health-insurance is in the interest of the people.

The requirement to present a health-insurance policy does not apply to Russian citizens passing through Lithuania's territory by train or by car under the simplified travel document scheme. The requirement, however, does apply to Russian citizens and other foreigners arriving under a visa regime.

During the consultations, participating parties agreed to employ measures at hand in order to elaborate the applicable procedure. They added that the visa regime would undergo further regulation under the Dec. 30, 2002 Lithuanian-Russian travel agreement.

Officials of both countries, meanwhile, agreed to maintain further contact.

The compulsory health-insurance requirement was initiated when Lithuania jointed the EU on May 1, 2004. However, border guards have only been checking for the documents at random, due to the lack of subordinate legislation.

On March 1, the Lithuanian government approved a document for foreigners specifying, and even slightly mitigating, their requirement to have health insurance. The law went into effect on March 6. In addition to citizens involved with Kaliningrad transit, health insurance is not compulsory for members of official delegations, as well as diplomats and their families.

Despite being informed about the new procedure, the Russian Foreign Ministry last month summoned representatives from Lithuania's Embassy to be reprimanded for the document's introduction.

At the same time, Russia's media published dozens of reports about how the health-insurance requirement would supposedly encumber Kaliningrad transit. Russian nationalists also staged several protests next to Lithuanian diplomatic representations voicing their concern.