The first phase of the National Health Scheme (Gesy) will kick in on June 1 no matter what and everyone is working full speed to meet that goal, an official said on Tuesday.
According to the deputy director of the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO), Efi Kamitsi, a lot of work is being done to meet the June 1 goal, which is the introduction of outpatient care.
“The HIO’s goal is clear, we have to implement this system,” Kamitsi told the Cyprus News Agency.
Contributions for Gesy started in March 1, she said, while beneficiaries will be called in to register under Gesy and choose their family physicians (GPs), after HIO signs contracts with the doctors registered to work as GPs.
For the system to work smoothly, around 350 GPs are needed. So far, she said, over 300 GPs have registered. “We believe there won’t be a problem as regards GPs.” As regards specialists, registration is ongoing, she said.
She added that there are timeframes that will not change and the goal is for all preparatory work to be completed before that date to ensure a smooth transition to the new phase of public healthcare, Gesy.
“As of June 1, we will all start taking (healthcare) services and gradually glitches in the system will be ironed out,” she said.
Meanwhile, the HIO has reportedly decided to introduce a regulation to allow Turkish Cypriots who work in the government-controlled areas to be entitled to Gesy coverage, as well as the enclaved.
According to the law on Gesy, only persons residing within the Republic of Cyprus and the British bases and who pay contributions are entitled to coverage by Gesy.
Daily Politis reported that the HIO board has recently decided to add a special regulation to include Turkish Cypriots who may reside permanently in the north but are working in the government-controlled areas and their dependents, and the enclaved with their dependents.
Currently, only Turkish Cypriots who have social insurance contributions are entitled to free healthcare coverage in the public sector. According to the current criteria as regards public healthcare beneficiaries that have been in effect since August 1, 2013, Cypriot and EU citizens who permanently reside in Cyprus are eligible to apply for a health card entitling them to subsidised state health care only if they have paid in at least three years’ social insurance (contributions do not have to be continuous), and have complied with all their tax obligations.
As of June 1, when the first phase of Gesy kicks in, the public will be able to receive outpatient services from GPs, specialists but also medicine and lab tests, Kamitsi said.
“There will be problems of course because this is a huge reform,” she said, adding that it will take some time for things to run smoothly as everyone will need an adjustment period. Both patients and healthcare providers will gradually learn how to use and work with the system.
Kamitsi said that an information campaign is already underway on everything one needs to know about the new health system and that members of the public may also find information on the Gesy website.