ADDITIONAL HEALTHCARE INSURANCE FUNDS TO COMPETE FOR CUSTOMERS
The four additional healthcare insurance funds are expected to start serious competition for customers from April 1. By then, the Doctors Union and the National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF) will have signed the national frame agreement. The document will specify the amount of free medical services provided to citizens, as well as the additional services they can get even if they are not included in the agreement.In the course of 18 months, those that were allowed to offer additional health services were Doverie United Healthcare Insurance Fund (its shareholders are Doverie-United Holding, Industrial Holding - Doverie, Vratitsa OOD, and Homogen AD), and the Bulgarian Zakrila Healthcare Insurance Company (part of the Orel G Holding financial group).On February 27, 2003, the Insurance Supervision Agency issued licences to another two companies operating in this field. One of them is Bulstrad Healthcare Insurance Fund, in which shareholders are Bulstrad (holding 60% of the capital) and Bulstrad - DSK Life (40%). The fund was established with equity capital of BGN500,000. Currently, it is the only one which took advantage of the amendment to the Act on Additional Healthcare Insurance, reducing the minimum amount of the required capital from BGN2MN to BGN250,000. There is a requirement, however, that in three years after getting the licence, the company must raise its founders' capital up to BGN2MN.DZI Healthcare Insurance Joint-Stock Company was granted a licence on February 27. Its shares are distributed among DZI AD - 66% of the capital, and DZI General Insurance AD - 34 per cent. The company was registered with equity capital of BGN2MN.Bulstrad's healthcare insurance fund will operate with five healthcare insurance packages: Health Improvement, Illness Prophylactics, Outhospital Medical Aid, Hospital Medical Aid, and Drug Costs Compensation. Experts hope that the last package will attract the biggest number of clients because of the periodic price growth of medical goods. The same offer is made by DZI healthcare insurance company and by Zakrila - a company of Orel G Holding. Except for drugs, however, Zakrila will compensate expenses made for glasses, hearing-aids, crutches, etc.Another interesting service will be DZI's healthcare insurance package called Health Improvement. It will include early diagnostics of malignant neoplasms, internal diseases and industrial illnesses, cardio-vascular and cerebral disease. The other packages are Outhospital Aid, Hospital Aid, and Complex Medical Aid. Each of them involves six groups of medical activities.Doverie healthcare insurance fund offers five packages: Health Improvement and Illness Prophylactics, Outhospital Medical Aid, Hospital Medical Aid, Services Related to Everyday Necessities, and Costs Compensation. Despite the VIP-extra services in hospitals and the full range of research works provided by the funds, Bulgarian people are not quite interested in additional healthcare insurance yet. Only 35,000 citizens had taken advantage of that opportunity by mid-October 2002. According to DZI Healthcare Insurance Joint-Stock Company Executive Director, Emilian Kounchev, the main reason for that is the insolvency of the population. He also cites the fact that lots of people are unaware of the medical services that are covered by the obligatory healthcare insurance. Branch experts are sure that after April 1 the four companies will concentrate their attention on companies with big personnel and ability to offer additional healthcare insurance to their staff.