TROUBLED HEALTHCARE FUND RECOVERS AT ONCE
The National Healthcare Insurance Fund (NHIF) has spent BGN423.7MN from January to end-June. That is 48.3% of the BGN878MN provided for the whole 2004, the Chairman of the fund's Management Board Kiril Ananiev said. NHIF still has to spend BGN15.3MN. Rumours spread that it is in a financial crisis, but figures show that this is not true, Mr. Ananiev said. But why then did the managers of NHIF take the final measure to send the hospitals an instruction to reduce the number of patients accepted? The move allegedly aimed at stabilizing the financial condition of the hospitals. The NHIF manager Ivan Boukarev repeated several times that the amount of money paid to hospitals was significantly growing. He alarmed that if things went that way, over expenses would reach BGN15MN-BGN18MN at year-end.The NHIF report makes it clear that the fund has spent just 3.6% above the money planned for healthcare services. Over expenses for hospital assistance in particular are equal to 2.5 per cent. In practice, for the first six months of 2004 NHIF has paid BGN412.8MN for medical services. BGN106.6MN of the money went for hospital assistance, BGN48.7MN were paid to general practitioners, and BGN45.8MN were for medical specialists. Dentists received BGN26.8MN and medical diagnostic laboratories - BGN21.4MN.The fund has spent BGN109.6MN for drugs in the period January - end-June. However, it could have paid BGN20MN less, if the regulation for the reimbursement drugs list had become valid from the beginning of the year, the Union of Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Producers announced. Its experts claim that the NHIF spends for medicines more because it pays for 80 expensive imported drugs which have much cheaper Bulgarian analogues. According to the report, BGN409.9MN have been collected in the fund for the first half of 2004, compared to BGN348.9MN in the same period of 2003. According to Kiril Ananiev, the implementation of the budget income part was good as a whole and if the tendency goes on there will be over implementation of the revenues voted by the National Assembly for the first time. No money has been used from the reserve which amounts to BGN75.64MN. If the budget needs to be corrected at the end of the year in its part for financing hospital assistance, money will be taken from the operating reserve. However, this is considered not so probable.In order to correct the expenditure, the fund has also tightened control in the hospitals. For the first half of 2004, NHIF inspectors have carried out nearly 12,000 inspections. The controllers have found out that BGN514,000 have been drained illegally from the fund. Agreements with several hospitals have been terminated as it turned out that they had not the necessary personnel and equipment.