Armenia Plans Nationwide Mandatory Health Insurance

The facade of the new Central Republican Hospital building in Stepanakert

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The government plans to put in place a nationwide system of mandatory medical insurance that should make healthcare far more accessible to Armenians, a senior official in Yerevan announced on Monday.

Saro Tsaturian, head of the State Healthcare Agency, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the government has assigned the agency to develop a “concept” for the reform in the next few months. He said the new system could come into force as early as in January 2015.

Ever since the Soviet break-up Armenians have had to pay for most of the services provided by various medical institutions. Many people in the country have been unable to afford the relatively high cost of medical treatment. Widespread corruption in the healthcare sector only aggravates the problem.

Only public sector employees as well as a small minority of people working for private firms currently have health insurance.

According to Tsaturian, whose agency is subordinate to the Ministry of Health, the government now wants to extend insurance coverage to Armenia’s entire population. “At the heart of medical insurance is the principle of social solidarity,” he said. “That is why it has to be mandatory.”

“Medical insurance is basically about young people subsidizing older ones and rich people subsidizing poorer ones because the former pay more for health insurance than the latter,” added the official.

Tsaturian confirmed that this means more sums will be deducted from workers’ wages. He suggested that the average monthly payment for a “package of basic hospital services” could vary from 2,000 to 3,000 drams ($5-$7.5).

Tsaturian could not say whether the planned insurance system will cover expensive and complicated surgeries that are not necessarily performed in Armenia. “This question requires calculations,” he said.

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15 Comments

  1. Hratch said:

    Any society that wants to prosper must provide some sort of affordable medical insurance to its citizens. The risk of ruin and bankruptcy due to medical bills is a crime.

  2. John Ahmaranian said:

    How would the Armenians in Armenia be able to buy insurance when they do not have enough money
    to feed themselves?

  3. GeorgeMardig said:

    Armenia should copy Spanish system of universal health, they have proved to be the cheapest, the most efficient and economical of the world.

    • glagirl said:

      Do you live in Spain? If not, you can not say it’s the “best” system.

      Any “program” provided by a “government” is not going to be the “most efficient.” It just doesn’t work that way, in any country.

  4. glagirl said:

    Bad idea.

    Best would be if health care was a private industry matter and capitalism took care of it by having companies compete for people’s money. This way, the young wouldn’t pay for the old and the rich wouldn’t pay for the poor.

    • www.Voskanapat.info said:

      Yeh, right. Capitalism existed in 17th century England maybe. It is completely extinct by now. Companies don’t need people’s money anymore and people don’t have any real money anyway.

      Armenia needs to go back to the socialized health care model that proved to be better for public health and cheaper for all.

  5. GB said:

    Armenians should follow Israeli example!!

    Israeli health care is one of the best in civilized world, because of unlimited financial help provided toward Israeli health care system by Jewish communities of the world!! Today Israel exporting their own medicine world wide, due to their strong medical research labs, and well paid scientists and lab technicians!

  6. Vanessa Kachadurian said:

    Remember when Republic of Armenia was part of the Soviet system it had a “state operated health care system” When Armenia pulled away from the Soviet Union, many people were caught without health care and didn’t understand the concept of paying for it. So many citizens health suffered. While I am not for government operated and controlled health care that is “mandatory” I think the government should make it available, especially for the elderly. I see a lot of poor health care in Armenia, diabetes is rampant. Lots of amputed legs.

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