State to Pay Additional Health Insurance for 900,000 Croatian Citizens

Lauren Simmonds

As Vedran Marjanovic/Novac writes on the 15th of July, 2020, in the midst of the preparations for the recently held parliamentary elections, the Government expanded the circle of Croatian citizens who have the ability to exercise the right to have their additional health insurance paid out from the state budget, of which there have been about 670,000 so far.

These are, among others, 378 thousand family members and single people who have a lower income, about 150 thousand students and about 29 thousand insured persons with 100% disability.

It is estimated that under the new Law on Voluntary Health Insurance, the right for the state to pay for their additional health insurance will be exercised by another 200 thousand Croatian citizens this year alone, with a belief that in 2021, the state budget, due to the effects of cononavirus on the economy, will be obliged to pay for the additional health insurance for close to one million citizens.

”Detailed analyses of the number of insured persons who are entitled to a supplementary health insurance policy on the basis of the income census at the expense of the state budget of the Republic of Croatia are still being prepared, and we’ll be able to provide accurate information later on. Last year, 520 million kuna was allocated from the state budget for supplementary health insurance policies at the expense of the Croatian state budget, ie around 779.87 kuna per policy or per insured person,” the Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO) answered in response to the question of just how many Croatian citizens will have their additional health insurance politices paid for from the state budget, and in what amount(s).

In any case, back in May this year, the Government decided to change the formula according to which the right to additional health insurance is determined at the expense of the state for Croatian citizens of a lower financial status. According to the old regulation, the basis for exercising the right was the amount of income of 1,516 kuna for a family member, or 1939 kuna for a single person. Anyone below that amount was able to receive supplementary health insurance payments from the state budget.

The problem, however, for many families and single people who have exercised the right to have their additional health insurance paid by the state arose when, due to some increase in their pension or salaries, they transferred the aforementioned amounts back to them and as such, they were left without this assistance from the state. If we take the average annual expenditure of almost 780 kuna, it is certainly not small for families and single people of a lower financial status. In addition, the cost of living is constantly increasing, which increases in pensions or salaries can barely keep up with.

”About 260,000 low-income Croatian citizens remained without their additional health insurance payments being made directly from the state budget from 2012 to 2020 due to a typically very minimal increase in their income,” claimed MP and President of the Croatian Pensioners’ Party, Silvano Hrelja, who sent a proposal to Parliament last year with the aim of changing the formula for calculating the ”threshold” for the exercising of the right to have this paid from the budget.

Hrelja stateed that the goal of his bill was to increase the threshold for family members of a lower financial status by 313 kuna, and for single people by around 400 kuna.

”The Government rejected my bill on the grounds that it was financially unacceptable for the budget, although I calculated that the implementation of the law as proposed by the budget would cost an additional fifty million kuna in 2019 and 100 million kuna this year. Then, the Government passed a regulation according to which the income census increased by 47 kuna for family members and by 61 kuna for single people of a lower financial status,” Hrelja explained.

Under the new Voluntary Health Insurance Act, the threshold for exercising the right to have additional health insurance payments paid for by the state is aligned with the growth of the cost of living and the rate of change of the average gross salary in the country. According to the remarks of the Government submitted to the Parliament with the proposal of the aforementioned law, the threshold for the realisation of the payment of additional health insurance payments from the state budget will increase this year to 1563 kuna and 25 lipa for family members, or by 2000 kuna for singles, and thus the coverage of Croatian citizens who are free to exercise that right will be greater.

While HZZO stated that the amount of additional health insurance policies that could be paid for by the state, the Government stated that the expected number of newly insured persons who could meet the conditions for the payment of this type of insurance from the budget is around 200 thousand, with the corresponding annual additional budget expenditure standing at 160 million kuna.

”At this time, we’re not able to increase the funds from the state budget to cover additional health insurance policies, given the fact that this depends on the indexation or harmonisation of the income threshold with changes in the average consumer price index, as well as changes in the average gross wage at the end of the year, this also regards the available funds in the state budget,” they stated from HZZO.

The aforementioned political party claimed that the new coverage of the right to have additional health insurance payments paid out from the state budget will cover a maximum of 13 thousand newly insured persons, ie, that the Government actually released completely incorrect estimates in their notes to the proposal of the Law on Voluntary Health Insurance.

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