By Amina Nazarli
Azerbaijan is in the process of introducing mandatory health insurance, while a number of changes are expected in the health system of the country with the application of the insurance.
The department head at the Health Ministry, Elkhan Azizov, informed that however no changes will be in the activity of the state medical institutions, and they will not provide paid medical services until full implementation of the mandatory health insurance.
Aziziov, commenting on the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers on amendments to the "Model statutes of medical institutions, government agencies and legal entities subordinated to, the shares of which belong to the state", clarified that the application of paid medical services is not planned in the near future.
"Until full transition to the compulsory medical insurance, public health facilities will not provide paid medical service," he said.
He clarified that the Cabinet decision does not mean that the current system has changed, and that citizens will be provided only by paid medical services. The decision is mostly related to bringing the normative-legal acts in compliance with the current legislation, he said.
The Parliament has recently approved the Law on "Public legal entities", in accordance to which, state institutions in various fields, including medical health care institutions, received the status of a public legal entity.
"To ensure self-financing, a public entity should be able to provide paid services. However, these medical facilities will continue to be considered a state, and will continue to provide free medical services until the complete transition to the compulsory medical insurance system. Following the introduction, these facilities will not receive funding from the state budget," he said.
Azizov went on further saying that municipalities, having necessary capabilities and potential, can create medical facilities.
The municipalities themselves, according to their capabilities, should determine what services will be provided free of charge.
"Medical institutions created by municipalities can provide both paid and free services. If municipal fees will be quite large, the municipal medical institutions will provide free services for the low-income segments of the population, residing in this territory," he said.
Currently, two types of health facilities including public and private are functioning in the country.
The compulsory insurance is an integral part of health care reform, which will increase the financial capacity of the country’s health system. The State Agency for Compulsory Health Care Insurance, established in February 2016, aims to ensure access to health services for all citizens.
The Agency has already defined the main characteristics of a future model of compulsory health insurance. The package of the compulsory medical insurance will cover 1,800 medical services, including inspection, treatment, diagnostic procedures, surgical procedures, and other services.
Certain diseases, treatments of which are realized at the expense of government programs, have not been included in the basic package. In the future it is planned to include them, as well.
It’s planned to use the benefits for the poor, elderly and retired people. However, the form of benefit application will become clear after the full introduction of the compulsory health insurance model.
International practice shows the preparation for the introduction of compulsory health insurance and its full implementation in the country could take three to five years.