Cost Free Access to Public Health for the uninsured. Which law are we talking about?


3 April 2016 Helliniko

 Cost Free Access to Public Health for the uninsured. Which law are we talking about?

A letter was sent to a patient of our clinic on the 18th of March 2016.  In it the G. Gennimatas General hospital requests payment for hospitalization for an operation in 2014.  If payment is not forthcoming within 15 days, the amount will be transferred to the patient’s tax bill.

This operation took place in November of 2014 (for an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta) based on the law for those uninsured by the public health system in place at the time.  It has just been passed in August 2014.  According to that law, a patient who is uninsured and indigent should be examined by a three member committee and, depending on their decision, not be made to pay.  One small problem – the three member committee never met.  This has been the experience of most uninsured citizens who found themselves in the same situation.

Now, of course there is a new law passed just a month ago regarding the uninsured.  Under this new law, the only thing needed to guarantee admission to a public hospital is his health ID number and the patient is not to be charged.  The law has passed the parliament but is not in force yet, because, inexplicably, the required joint ministerial decisions have not been published.  So the law of 2014 is still in force.

We ask:

  • Do the three member committees meet or not? And if not, why not?
  • Uninsured patients are now to be admitted to hospital on the basis of which law?
  • Why does the state continue to violate its own laws and not put them in place?
  • What debt will uninsured patients carry, who had the bad luck to be hospitalized during these years of austerity (which continue today)? Will the government do anything about this?

We call on the government, yet once again, to erase this debt.  And for the umpteenth time, we demand that the government find a TOTAL solution to the tragedy of uninsured people and stop the hide and seek that the government has played for the past year with a bill for the uninsured.  Issue the Joint Ministerial Decisions required to implement the law, lame as it is.

Clarifications are required because some misrepresent what is actually in force at present:

  • Primary health care: What is in place is the law exactly as it was in August 2014.  The uninsured have access to medication with the same co-pays as the insured.  Regarding diagnostic tests, they have access ONLY to certain blood and urine tests and x-rays, with the stipulation that these are only carried out at actual public health clinics, and not clinics associated with the public health system.  For CT scans, MRIs or bone scans or any other types of test that must take place in hospital, there is NO ACCESS.
  • Hospital Coverage: In practice, each hospital does what it wants.  Some charge the uninsured, others don’t.  As mentioned, the recently passed law does not apply because the ministerial decisions have not been published.  The only thing done is the order from the Minister of Health to hospitalize the uninsured solely on the basis of their health identity number.  The question here is what takes priority?  A law from 2014 passed by parliament, or an order from the health minister (as the recently passed law is not in effect yet)?

To further confuse the matter, the alternate Minister of Social Solidarity, Mrs. Theano Fotiou released a circular a few days ago to the social services of the municipalities to reinstate the welfare booklet system.  We ask, why are they bringing this back if the order from the Minister of Health to the hospitals says the uninsured can be admitted with the health ID number?

Simple questions.  Are there answers?



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