BVA to abolish patient’s contribution.
More than 260,000 Austrians are looking forward to being freed from paying excess insurance.
Fritz Neugebauer, the head of Austria’s Public Servants’ Insurance Agency (BVA), announced yesterday (Thurs) that the insurer would scrap rules forcing young clients to pay 20 per cent of costs caused by visits to the doctor. Neugebauer explained that the insurance company’s board could come to an agreement concerning the issue as soon as within this month. He said regulations would be changed before summer.
Neugebauer, who is the deputy president of the Austrian parliament and a highly influential member of the People’s Party (ÖVP), said that almost 263,000 people aged 27 and below would benefit from the reform. The BVA customers who will soon be freed from paying a part of costs caused by visits to the doctor are relatives of civil servants. Regulations allow Austria’s public servants to register their children with the insurance company they are cooperating with.
The only BVA clients who do not need to pay patient’s contributions are pupils aged 15 or younger. Everyone aged between 15 and 27 has to come up for one fifth of the basic costs at the moment. Health Minister Alois Stöger of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) – who form a government coalition with the ÖVP – welcomed BVA’s plans.
Stöger said he saw himself as patients’ advocate. The minister said he considered the retained amounts as counterproductive. “I appeal to all the other health insurance agencies to follow BVA’s example and get rid of excess insurance charges,” Stöger – who is being pressurised to lower the Austrian health sector’s costs – announced.
Stöger encouraged insurers to reform their charging policies to lower the financial pressure on clients. Especially self-employed people are challenged by the common procedure of agencies of charging contributions only a few times a year. This method causes an accumulation of fees which contradicts Stöger’s appeal for more transparency as far as the insurers’ services are regarded.
The SPÖ-ÖVP coalition recently decided that the health sector must make significant contributions to the upcoming budget consolidation package. The government presented a concept under which family doctors were encouraged to cooperate more closely with clinics in their vicinity to improve coordinated procedures and ensure that sick people seek help at the best suitable institutions.
The opposition criticised that the government’s financial stability law failed to feature anything but declarations of intent. Representatives of the parliament’s opposition factions put into question whether SPÖ and ÖVP would manage to lower public health service spending expenditure in the coming years this way as substantial reforms of the sector were not in sight.
Stöger’s predecessor recently said she had great doubts that the domestic health sector would be reformed anytime soon. Andrea Kdolsky, who left politics after serving as ÖVP health minister for around one and a half years until 2008, told the Kurier: “I have always said that there is a savings potential of 2.8 billion Euros. (…) What is missing is the courage to make out significant changes. When I hear that the state and the insurance companies agree on intensifying their cooperation, I have to ask myself what kept them from doing so in the past 15 years?”