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AmCham hosted a luncheon with Ingrida Circene, Minister of Health on October 17 to discuss the outlook for Latvia’s healthcare.
Among her top priorities Minister Circene stressed the necessity to provide all residents of Latvia with accessibility to high-quality healthcare services. While admitting a number of various challenges ranging from the chronic lack of finances to demographic change caused by negative population growth and migration, the minister is certain that the solutions offered by the ministry can help respond to these challenges. The ministry proposes a new financing model that would tie up the benefits provided by the healthcare system with the tax payments. According to Ms. Circene, this mandatory health insurance will be effective and despite the severe opposition she has encountered, it will come into force already starting from next year.
She also spoke on a new model of healthcare financing, which would provide a minimum healthcare services for all citizens, such as emergency medical assistance, diagnostics, treatment of particular diagnosis and compensation of 100% reimbursed medicines. Healthcare services will be provided to tax payers, to the persons who are insured by the state and to those who have made a particular contribution to the state budget. Among her priorities, Minister Circene also named medical tourism, which would add another good export opportunity for the Latvian healthcare professionals.
In addition, the minister is working to bring down the extremely high out-pocket payment, which currently constitutes about 40%. Last, but not least is the priority of increasing salaries for the medical personnel twice over the next few years.
The Minister concluded her presentation with a strong message that national wealth should be associated with improved health and it is only recently that the contribution of health into the economic growth has been recognized. A lively discussion with numerous questions from the participants affirmed the importance of the subject matter.
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