New healthcare system will leave up to 40,000 uninsured

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Starting next year, there will be 30,000 - 40,000 people who don't qualify for state-sponsored healthcare services. They will be able to make voluntary payments to receive the so-called "full basket" of government-funded healthcare services starting September 1, according to National Health Service representative Edgars Labsvīrs.

He told Latvian Radio August 30 that the previously floated figure of up to 300,000 people being left without coverage for the full spectrum of healthcare services was wrong, as it was a very crude estimate that excluded several groups the state covers.

In December 2017 the Saeima passed the Healthcare Financing Law. It paved the way for launching a state mandatory health insurance system.

It divides state-sponsored healthcare into two groups: the healthcare minimum, which will be provided to all residents of Latvia, which includes emergency medical assistance, obstetrician's services, family physician's services, as well as government-funded medications and medical equipment; and the full basket, for which patients will need mandatory health insurance policies.

According to the Healthcare Financing Law, the full basket of healthcare services will be provided to those persons who have been socially insured in line with the Law on State Social Insurance (people who have been employed and paying taxes for the past 9 months), as well as persons under state protection, including students, children, nuns, disabled people and others.

Meanwhile people who don't qualify for the full basket can make voluntary payments to get coverage: for the year 2018 it's €51.60, for 2019 it's €154.80, and €258.00 for 2020. 

A caveat on the National Health Service website says that to qualify for coverage people must pay for the previous two years as well, meaning people who want healthcare insurance in 2019 must pay a total of €206.40 -- for 2018 and 2019 -- while if someone registers in 2020 they'll have to cover 2018 and 2019 costs as well. 

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