NHIF MEDICINES UNDER CONTROL
In order to optimize expenses for medicines paid partly or entirely by the National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF), eight criteria have been introduced for specifying what medicine should be prescribed to a patient and in what dose. Medicines will be prescribed as per the limits set by the NHIF. For instance, a doctor is allowed to prescribe up to 60 units of insulin daily. If he estimates that dose as insufficient, the patient should pass an examination by a commission that will have to decide if it should be increased. Medicines that cost more than BGN10 will already be written on a separate prescription, the NHIF specified. Now doctors prescribe several medicines for treatment of one and the same illness on one form and patients may choose from them. In most cases they get the cheapest medicines and do not buy the others. Pharmacies, however, report that the patient has purchased all the medicines and want their money from the NHIF. As of February 1, 2005, not only GPs but also specialized doctors may prescribe medicines, the NHIF explained. They are allowed to prescribe up to three types of medicine for one illness. The NHIF will be paying partly or entirely for 857 medicines for treatment of 155 ailments. The 2005 budget set for medicines for treatment at home totals BGN245MN.For 185 medicines on NHIF's list patients will be paying more this year than in 2004, insiders admitted. Only a month ago the NHIF was claiming that just 50 medicines would be more expensive in 2005. Thirty seven medicines have been hiked by BGN1 to BGN2; the prices of 27 have increased by BGN0.50 to BGN1; 33 medicines will be BGN0.20 to BGN0.50 more expensive, and 15 will cost BGN0.01 to BGN0.18 more. The good news is that 359 medicines will be cheaper than last year.