On 23 May, the Czech government rejected proposed amendments to foreigner and health insurance laws, and announced that it will not deal with the foreigners health insurance issues in the near future. The amendments intended to exclude from the public health insurance system, several groups of foreigners, including asylum seekers, foreigners granted international protection, children of foreign researchers and children born to foreign parents.
As Head of the Government Legislative Council, Minister for Human Rights Jiri Dienstbier (Social Democrats, CSSD) raised 116 objections to the amendments and recommended to include all foreigners with long-term residence in the public health insurance system. According to Dienstbier, a specific law should deal with the compulsory health insurance for foreigners. This view is shared by the Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) who said such new bill should be prepared by Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) who disagrees. NGOs, academic bodies and the public defender of rights also condemned the proposed bill. If the country maintained this barrier, foreign experts and workforce might prefer other countries, they say.
Inclusion of this category of foreigners in the public health insurance system is opposed by the Health Ministry which says this would make the system unstable and cost as much as two billion crowns (ca. 75 million euros) a year. On the other hand, NGOs and migration experts claim that immigrants would rather contribute to the system than draw money from it.
Non-Europeans have access to public health insurance only if they have permanent residence in the Czech Republic - half of them do - or if they are employees of a Czech company. Moreover, foreign researchers on long stays and recognised refugees have the right to public insurance too. However, entrepreneurs, students, and spouses and children of immigrants do not have access to the public system and they must have private health insurance. Currently, approximately 50-60 thousand immigrants are excluded from the public health insurance system.
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