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Gesy should be evaluated by an independent body, patients group say

An independent body should be brought in to evaluate the health system, the patients’ association said on Saturday, a day after an audit-office report alleged illegalities and tax evasion within the national health scheme (Gesy).

The Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) seems unable to control the national health scheme, the head of the patients’ association Marios Kouloumas told state radio, asking for an independent agency to be brought in to evaluate medical procedures.

Kouloumas estimated there was no risk of collapse of Gesy, but a way must be found to reduce abuses to a minimum.

He added the auditor-general’s report, published on Friday, showed the “huge tax evasion” that existed prior to the scheme.

The report covered July 2019, when Gesy was launched, to December 2021.

It showed that 67 specialist doctors earned more than €300,000, of whom many had not filed a tax return for the years 2018 and 2019, while those who had filed a tax return for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019, their declared income was “clearly lower than what they received from the HIO.”

Eleven specialised doctors received over €500,000 for 2020, the highest of which was €870,742 for a single doctor.  Two gynaecologists in 2020 jointly received a fee of €1.4m for outpatient care alone.

Furthermore, 92 of the total of 774 personal doctors are over 70 years old with the oldest doctor being 83. Of them, five were unknown to the tax department for many years.

The numbers show an abuse of the system, but also the possibility of tax evasion in previous years, according to the report.

Among other irregularities, it also found that 28 per cent of GPs had over 2,000 patients registered, which was set as the maximum number of patients a doctor can have.

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