(Sofia, Bulgaria) According to Health Minister Bozhidar Nanev, the debt and deficit of Bulgaria's socialized health care system are growing at unmanageable rates and the nation's leaders have no answers. The head of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), Roumyana Todorova, hit the panic button three months ago but no one apparently listened.
She said that with the new and more expensive pharmaceuticals added to the list, the money will be over in September and this has already started to happen.Simply put, one could say that Bulgaria has run out of other people's money to spend on health care.
The former cabinet, which was headed by Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Sergei Stanishev, took no heed of her warnings, deliberately causing a deficit of 30 million leva a month. The institution says that the real picture will come out in October 2009, when it begins paying for very expensive medication for patients on waiting lists such as hepatitis B and C patients.
Nanev pointed to the lack of reforms in hospital care as another factor for the nagging deficit, adding that 1.6 million more people are now hospitalised, a "serious" increase given that the population is not growing and no new diseases have been registered. But doctors claim they have to hospitalise each patient as clinical paths are not fully financed and hospitals need to dig into their pockets.
A third factor for the gap is the large number of people paying no health care contributions. Their current number of about 1.2 million is growing by 30 000 to 40 000 every month as more people go out of work.
"Health care insurance should be treated as law and contributions should be a kind of tax payable by everyone," Nanev said.