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Tallinn maintains free healthcare specialist visits for children

Tallinn maintains free healthcare specialist visits for children

Starting July 1, hospitals owned by the City of Tallinn will cover the visit fees for children’s specialist appointments from their own funds.

According to Deputy Mayor Karl Sander Kase, young patients in Tallinn will continue to be exempt from paying visit fees for specialist appointments. “The policy that children in Tallinn do not have to pay visit fees in city hospitals has been in place since 2020, and it will continue,” noted the Deputy Mayor, adding that the source of funding for the visit fees will change starting July 1.

From July 1, the funding source for children’s visit fees in Tallinn-owned hospitals will change. Until now, the City of Tallinn has compensated hospitals for these fees from the city budget, but going forward, the hospitals will cover the costs themselves. According to Kase, the hospital boards have agreed with their management that city hospitals will not exercise the right to charge visit fees for children’s specialist appointments. Under the Health Insurance Act, healthcare institutions have the right to charge a visit fee but are not obligated to do so. Children under the age of two are exempt from visit fees.

Konstantin Rebrov, Chairman of the Board of Tallinn Children’s Hospital, stated that the hospital has taken the impact of this change into account in its budget. “When looking at the overall budget and operations of our hospital, it is feasible not to charge a visit fee. However, this means we need to review our investment plans,” noted Rebrov, adding that the budget impact for this year is approximately 150,000 euros.

Arkadi Popov, Chairman of the Board of West Tallinn Central Hospital, confirmed that the hospital board has discussed and agreed not to charge visit fees for children’s specialist appointments and to continue providing methadone substitution therapy to all in need. “The necessary funds will be found within the hospital’s own resources without affecting the availability of treatment in other specialties,” confirmed Dr. Popov, adding, “this is our contribution to the city’s development through social responsibility.” The impact on the hospital’s budget for this year is approximately 125,000 euros.

In the second half of the year, West Tallinn Central Hospital will partially fund opioid substitution therapy from its own resources. “The availability of methadone substitution therapy for opioid addicts in Tallinn will certainly not decrease,” assured Kase, noting that this service is funded nationally through the National Institute for Health Development (NIHD). “It is true that the service has been underfunded by the state for years, and the city has therefore provided additional funding. Going forward, the hospital will cover the service based on need from its own budget,” said Kase. The Deputy Mayor added that in the future, the goal is to negotiate with the state to ensure that the nationally funded service is financed by NIHD according to the actual need.

The Tallinn City Government has submitted a supplementary budget to the City Council for approval, increasing the social welfare and health sector funding by 2.34 million euros.