Government Outlines Health Insurance Strategy

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian government approved on Thursday the main points of what it expects to become a national system of mandatory health insurance in the next few years. The insurance "concept" developed by the ministry of health aims to introduce a system of monthly obligatory paymen’s to a special public fund that will cover costs of medical services–presently unaffordable for a considerable part of the population.

It is expected that the majority of contributions will come from the state budget–Minister of Health Ararat Mkrtchian told reporters after the cabinet session. The government plans to put the new system into practice "in the first of half of next year," he said. Its implementation is unlikely to proceed smoothly given the high rate of unemployment and lack of jobs with stable income in the country.

Mindful of this fact–Mkrtchian said–the government has opted for a gradual introduction of medical insurance–starting from such relatively high income earners as senior bureaucrats–banking and energy sector employees. They will be able to choose between the state and private insurance agencies.

Lack of budgetary funds means that Armenia’s have to pay for most medical services. The past eight years have seen a sharp decline in policlinic and hospital visits as many people go to doctors only in emergency cases.

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