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President meets insurance sector representatives to discuss new project

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, February 18
The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili met with Cabinet members and representatives of insurance companies on Monday. The meeting was held to discuss the new health insurance programme co-funded by the state proposed by the President last week.

Saakashvili said the insurance companies have made a positive “breakthrough”. “The insurance companies really play a big role in society. This market has developed quite fast in Georgia,” the President said.

Saakashvili touched upon the issue of problems between citizens and insurance companies. He said there are serious shortcomings in the existing system which should be improved. “The rights of policy holders should be better protected,” the President told those present, adding that the insurance companies should cooperate with citizens and no insurer should try to “outmanoeuvre” them.

Under the new insurance programme proposed by President Saakashvili in his annual address to Parliament last Thursday, a 5 lari per month insurance package will be created. The Government will pay GEL 3.35 out of the GEL 5 into each policy, leaving citizens to pay only GEL 1.65 per month. Health Minister Alexander Kvitashvili said the package will cover the expense of emergency medical treatment, medical examinations, operations which cost up to GEL 5,000 and other services.

The President said a monitoring group will be set up. He said he will follow weekly reports on the new insurance programme to ensure that it is being implemented “in favour of each citizen.” “Our aim now is to make sure people know that the amount of money they will pay is less than GEL 20 a year. There is no economic crisis in Georgia yet, but economic difficulties have pressured each of our citizens. Health problems become especially important in this situation. So we should all move to a new pattern of relations, so our society can live through the conditions of economic difficulty more easily,” Saakashvili said at the meeting.

Insurance company representatives expressed their support for the President’s initiative. “I welcome this new health insurance project,” Director General of the Aldagi-BCI insurance company Nika Gamkrelidze told journalists after the meeting. However the opposition says the President’s new initiative is nothing more than “another farce” designed to mislead Georgian citizens. Manana Nachkebia from the New Rights Party said this programme bring nothing to Georgian society. “The President is lying when he says the state will allocate money for this programme. Almost all programmes envisaged in last year’s budget have been cancelled. This is merely taking money from one pocket and putting it in another. The state will not spend any additional funds on this,” Nachkebia stated.

The Government and the insurance companies are due to sign a memorandum today. The document will include the detailed terms of the new social insurance project.