RIGA, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- An overhaul of the Latvian health system began on Monday as ministers endorsed draft legislation that will regulate the health sector's financing, local media informed.
The healthcare financing bill, which will be put before the parliament this week, is expected to take effect as of next year.
Latvia's health reform provides for dividing all patients into two groups -- those entitled to public health insurance and consequently the full range of government-funded healthcare services, and those without such health insurance and only entitled to the minimum amount of medical assistance.
"We divide the healthcare basket into two parts -- the so-called minimum basked and the so-called full basket. The full basket will be available to those people that make social security contributions and those insured by the government: children, pensioners and others mentioned in the bill," said Health Ministry official Daina Murmane-Umbrasko.
Those working-age Latvians that do not make social security contributions will only be entitled to the minimum healthcare basket, but they will be able to join the system -- and receive the full basket of healthcare services -- by making an annual payment, the Health Ministry official explained.
In 2018, the annual payment for joining the government-paid healthcare system has been set at 1 percent of the minimum monthly wage, but it will be raised to 5 percent of the minimum wage in following years.
Representatives of the Latvian Finance Ministry said that a number of issues related to the planned health reformed still remained unresolved. The new bill, for instance, only covers matters concerned with the financing of healthcare, but provides little clarity on how the new health insurance system will work.
"It would make sense to have one law, covering financing, services and insurance," said Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola.
Under the agreement reached by the ministers on Monday, the Health Ministry has to draw up a bill on mandatory public health insurance by the end of 2018, which means that its adoption might be left to Latvia's next government and parliament.