ECONOMY

Gov’t mulls enhancing role of insurers in healthcare system

The government is examining the possibility of expanding the supplementary role of the private health sector in the public National Health System (ESY), including the involvement of private insurers, as the need arises, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday. «Our approach to private healthcare is to get rid of the taboos of the past. The Health Ministry has undertaken the initiative of expanding various partnerships with private clinics on an auxiliary basis. In other words, we are tapping the potential of the private sector in offering, as a supplement to ESY, services that have not been developed to the degree they should in public hospitals,» he said in an address to the Association of Greek Insurance Companies (EAEE) titled «The Health Sector in the Center of Developments.» Kaklamanis proposed the setting up of a special committee, with the participation of public health officials and representatives of private insurers, which will look into the possibility of partnerships and tap the experience of other European countries in drafting proposals and implementing conclusions. Harvard Professor of Health Administration and Policy E. Hadziandreou urged EAEE to undertake initiatives for cooperation between the private and public health sectors. «Such cooperation has been proved to be a one-way street in the practice of other developed countries,» she said. Hadziandreou said the weak points of the Greek health system are high costs and inflation in medical and hospital services, which create structural problems in the provision of services. She described the Greek public health system as «dangerously disorganized and wasteful,» with a lack of respect for the citizen and difficulties in dealing with problems. On the other hand, she added, the private health sector exhibits a high cost structure. The result of these problems is that Greece is among the laggards as regards spending on private insurance. EAEE officials said private insurers favor the setting up of an arbitration committee which will resolve disputes between hospitals and insurance companies on the cost of care. Kaklamanis said the ministry is also looking into the utilization of the healthcare facilities of Olympic installations on the basis of a new management model, with a view to attracting privately insured patients that have been exclusively oriented to private hospitals to date.