Government officials from the health sector of Armenia were absent from a roundtable discussion in Yerevan about a comprehensive medical insurance scheme planned for 2023.

The administration claims Armenia’s high medical expenditures require the scheme.

The Reporters for the Future NGO welcomed the Deputy Health Minister of Armenia Lena Nanushyan in order to outline the insurance system.

Nanushyan came at the panel’s hotel but withdrew abruptly, citing “unforeseen circumstances.”

Varduhi Petrosyan and Davit Melik-Nubaryan confirmed their participation but didn’t show. NIH was also invited.

Panelists were mostly NGOs. Ara Sinanyan, a health and social affairs expert, was the lone government representative. He was surprised by the lack of health authorities.

In 2019, the  Ministry of Health for Armenia proposed mandatory medical insurance for all people. Later, talks on the system’s introduction ceased. Lena Nanushyan led a working committee that developed a bill in April 2021. It’s unpublished.

Reporters for the Future surveyed the proposed overall medical insurance scheme in February to see who would pay what and if medical costs would drop.

The panelists noted Armenia’s healthcare industry lacks the infrastructure, staff, and financial resources for comprehensive health insurance.

Violeta Zopunyan, head of the Law Development Center NGO, said Armenia must address several problems before adopting such a system.

Zopunyan is a representative of the Department of Health’s Public Council, but he doesn’t think the conversations are enough. ays it’s unclear what body/agency would manage and regulate such a system, and she cites the failures of reforms for health care sector as proof that big changes must be thoroughly prepared and debated.

 Taxpayers’ Protection NGO head Paylak Tadevosyan stated no one understands why the Ministry of Health proposed such a scheme. Zopunyan said no study was given during government deliberations.

According to the proposal, a healthcare package with one person will cost 84,000-360,000 drams, with the employee paying 42,000-180,000 drams.

Tadevosyan said this would cost employees and employers. He also thought it was unjust to force the workers to pay for unemployment insurance.

Ara Sinanyan stated Armenia already has national health insurance.

‘To manage the insurance system, detailed calculations must be conducted,’ he added.

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