IKA chief vows to cut expenses, check ‘rackets’

Miltiades Nectarios, head of the Social Security Foundation (IKA), Greece’s largest social security and pension fund, yesterday defended the efficiency of his agency and attacked unnamed interests who want to undermine the agency, as well as media critics of his performance as head of IKA. Nectarios, formerly head of Ethniki Insurance, was speaking at an event organized by the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE). Even though he failed to name names, or even illegal practices, it was clear whom Nectarios meant when he spoke of «rackets» in the approval of physical disability pensions, medicines and in the private health sector. Nectarios told his audience that he is committed to deep cost cutting, but also to pursuing those enterprises that either fail totally to declare their employees or fail to pay their part of social security contributions. Referring to the well-known fact that medicine intake by Greek patients is excessive compared to other countries, the IKA chief said that his goal was to save IKA 59 million euros annually from medicine consumption through an automated system of monitoring doctors’ prescriptions. IKA doctors alone hand out to patients 24 million prescriptions annually, all partly reimbursed. Nectarios said that his cost-cutting drive would be certain to be «rabidly opposed by organized interests» alluding to pharmaceuticals firms and the doctors in cooperation with them. He failed, however, to further specify his accusations. Another cause of escalating medicine consumption has nothing to do with fraud but with the fact that the number of insured people over 65 years of age has risen nearly 40 percent in the past two decades. Nectarios was equally fiery against the companies that fail to pay their dues to IKA. He estimated the number of companies that failed to completely register their employees with IKA at 50,000 and warned that controls by joint teams of IKA and tax service employees would be severe. Nectarios also spoke about the automation system being installed at IKA, calling it a far more complex endeavor than the TAXIS system installed at the tax service. He said that, even in its half-completed state, IKA’s information system has prevented the agency from collapsing. «In the last 50 years, we did not even know the exact number of people insured with us,» he said.