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Foreigners stay in Slovakia without state health insurance

More than 26,000 foreigners from third countries live in Slovakia for the purpose of employment. We brought them here when we had the lowest unemployment rate in history and we needed reinforcements. Coroncacrisis significantly changes the situation. It is clear that foreigners are first on the list for the reduction, and this is already happening. They have to deal with it and clean it up. The problem, however, concerns those who came to Slovakia with families, who have children who are studying in local schools and want to finish the school year at least online, or who can not leave because the borders are closed and they can not get home. After losing their jobs, foreign workers and their children also lose public health insurance, but even worse, they cannot start paying for it as self-payers during unemployment. The law simply does not allow them to do so. Foreign workers are the largest group of foreigners who may find themselves without insurance in Slovakia. Who are the rest?

Foreign entrepreneurs, students and volunteers

Foreign directors of Slovak companies in Slovakia do not have the opportunity to be publicly insured, the law prohibits them from 2018. The managing director cannot conclude an employment contract (this is prohibited by the Residence of Aliens Act) and the Health Insurance Act prohibits him from having public health insurance. A foreign entrepreneur can hire dozens of people, pay thousands of euros in taxes, but have no insurance. They couldn’t have public health insurance before coronavirus, so they had to rely on their immunity, as they had before.

A similar restriction - the prohibition of public health insurance - applies, for example, to all foreign volunteers and the vast majority of foreign students.

Newborn children and foreign parents in need of care

The most vulnerable groups in both the foreign community and the Slovak community are newborns and the elderly. However, it is quite often the case that newborns do not have public health insurance, although by law they should have it. Twins were born in a foreign family in early April. The father of the family is a businessman who has lived in Slovakia for more than 10 years and pays taxes. Newborn parents have health insurance because they pay taxes. Contrary to the law, medical insurance companies make it a condition of obtaining public health insurance for newborns, such as a passport and residence permit. We know that the consulates are closed and that, at best, it will be possible to issue a passport after the end of the crisis; if it is, for example, in July, the passport will be, say, in September, and a residence permit - at best in November, I look at it with optimism. Thus, newborn twins will remain without health insurance during the pandemic and the first months of life, at least until Christmas.

Both the directors of foreign companies and the parents of adult foreigners who have come to Slovakia to stay with their children have no chance of obtaining State health insurance. Children of such pensioners are not allowed to pay health insurance premiums for their relatives as self-payers, and foreign pensioners are prohibited from doing business and from being employed.

There were almost 9,000 foreigners in Slovakia on the basis of family reunification.

Foreigners staying here on the basis of visas

After the closure of the borders, foreigners who came to Slovakia on the basis of a visa or visa-free regime and had tourist insurance for the expected period of stay in Slovakia, remained in Slovakia, but for many of them the period of validity of this insurance has expired. They can stay here until the crisis is resolved, even after the expiry of the visa, which was made possible by a change in the law, but what if such a foreigner gets coronavirus? Travel insurers such as AXA honestly state on their website that any insurance issued after March 11, 2020, does not cover claims related to coronavirus. They also honestly explain that travel insurance is designed to protect against unexpected events and therefore does not cover cases where the occurrence of injury was predicted or known at the time of insurance, and since the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic, the disease is predictable.
Foreigners residing in Slovakia can still take out commercial insurance in Unione. It is Union that offers such foreigners insurance on a commercial basis. The amount of insurance is determined on the basis of the completed personal questionnaire and increases with each disease and risk of the patient. The most expensive insurance, of course, will cost the elderly and newborns, which I mentioned earlier.

At the end of the previous year, some 67,000 foreigners had been temporarily staying in Slovakia. Due to legislative restrictions and application practices, the current situation is that many, about half, do not have public health insurance and do not have access to it.

Did the current situation pose a risk to Slovakia? Is it not right now, during the coronavirus pandemic, to address the many shortcomings of the legislation governing health insurance for foreigners?

It would be good for all of us.

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