By Poly Pantelides
THE HEALTH ministry is considering asking the government to clarify how to process requests from people who are no longer eligible for state-subsidised healthcare but believe they should be.
Daily newspaper Politis said this week the health ministry plans to ask Cabinet to draw out a policy stating when an exception to the rules is justified.
The Cyprus Mail is told no date has been set yet to discuss exemptions, but it is understood the health ministry is still ironing out kinks in the system after changes in fees and beneficiaries were introduced this August.
As part of a raft of healthcare changes agreed with Cyprus’ international lenders, the health ministry introduced a number of reforms, though many more need to be taken and will ultimately include a National Health System (NHS) providing universal coverage based on financial contributions by the state and beneficiaries.
This August the health ministry changed the list of beneficiaries to state-subsidised healthcare following negotiations with the troika of lenders. Civil servants and their dependents as well as recipients of state pensions are covered in return for contributing 1.5 per cent of their gross salary. Five-member families may voluntarily also contribute the same 1.5 per cent of their gross salaries to ensure coverage. Some sufferers of chronic diseases are automatically entitled to healthcare.
For the rest there are sliding income criteria starting at €15,400 yearly salary for individuals, to €30,750 yearly for four-member families, plus an extra €1,700 per additional dependent. Non-beneficiaries do have access to the system on charges that are attractive compared to the private sector.
But to qualify for state healthcare, beneficiaries need to have accumulated three years’ worth of social insurance payments, disqualifying newcomers to the workforce who are now pushing for exemptions just when Cyprus is bracing itself for a deep recession next year.