To overcome the healthcare crisis caused by COVID-19, the supplementary budget will provide an additional 150 million euros for healthcare this year. The extra money will help to cover the extraordinary costs of healthcare facilities, continue extensive coronavirus testing, provide vaccination against COVID-19 and extend more beneficial reimbursement for sick leave.
“The central purpose of the healthcare system is to ensure that healthcare services are available for both – COVID-19 patients and for all other people in need. With the supplementary budget, we support our healthcare institutions to ensure the necessary help for all Estonian people and to enable vaccination against COVID-19 close to home,” said Tanel Kiik, the Minister of Health and Labour. “Our common purpose is to quickly overcome the COVID-19 crisis and return to as normal of a life as possible. Vaccination is the only sustainable way to slow down the COVID-19 pandemic so that we could continue to live with as few restrictions as possible.”
52 million euros will be allocated for hospitals, emergency medical care and other healthcare facilities to cover the extraordinary additional costs related to COVID-19. The additional money will make it possible to reorganize the work of medical institutions in the event of a rapid increase in infections, to pay extra to health care workers and, if necessary, to find substitutes for sick workers.
More than 20 million euros will be allocated for coronavirus testing. To effectively prevent the spread of coronavirus the access to testing should be as quick and easy as possible. The optimal availability of testing provides a more accurate picture of the spread of the infection, enables rapid action in identifying people who have been in contact with the virus, providing treatment to the sick, and is the basis for the implementation of various measures. The additional money will allow us to continue the large-scale and regionally available testing we have been doing so far: to test all people with symptoms of the virus and, if necessary, to perform thorough testing of bigger groups of people.
More than 30 million euros will be allocated for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and for organizing the vaccinations.
In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, from January 2021 employers are compensating the 2nd to 5th day of the certificate for sick leave and the Health Insurance Fund from the 6th day forward. To extend the reimbursement of sick leave from the 2nd day of illness until the end of 2021 there will be 12 million euros allocated to the Health Insurance Fund. Early reimbursement of sick leave reduces the risk of people going to work while being sick and thus helps to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as it allows people to stay at home when the first symptoms of the virus appear, while maintaining their income.
The stress levels and mental health problems of the population have increased during COVID-19 and therefore a total of almost 3 million euros will be allocated to prevention and information, victim support, child protection and improving access to mental health services at the primary level.
4 million euros will be allocated for the purchase of Remdesivir, which is an antiviral medicine used to treat patients with severe cases of COVID-19. Additional funding will also be provided for the procurement of medical equipment for the treatment of COVID-19, for the Health Board to cover the costs of crisis management, for the development and maintenance of ICT solutions and for information related activities to raise public awareness.
An additional 26.5 million euros from the supplementary budget will be allocated to the Health Insurance Fund to restore the statutory reserve capital, as the economic outlook is likely to be more negative and social tax return worse than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and additional restrictions.