PM Boyko Borissov expressed concern Thursday that the budget of the National Social Security Institute might not be able to deal with a coronavirus outbreak. The admission is a follow up to contradicting information government officials have been putting out lately regarding preventive measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. Bulgaria still has not confirmed a CONVID-19 case but the chief of the crisis team assembled to lead the response said the coronavirus will inevitably enter Bulgaria soon.
Over the past ten days different government officials have advised people returning from high risk countries to self-quarantine for 14 days. The measure is provided by law and as such should be ordered by the GP and covered by the basic health insurance. Two ministers, however – of health and social policy – declared the time under quarantine will not be covered by the insurance but will instead be taken out of the annual holiday leave. Another option would be for people to get unpaid leave. In both cases the economic burden of the quarantine would fall onto the workers.
The PM admitted sick leave for quarantine is covered under the mandatory health insurance but also stressed that the social security budget simply could not handle covering the leave of everyone coming from high-risk countries.
“I want to warn you – the PM told reporters – that in case of an epidemic – which is likely coming (…) – if 50, 100, 200 thousand people get sent to stay home and their sick leave need to be covered by the NSSI, this would empty its budget”.
The head of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Policy Hasan Ademov agreed with the PM the quarantine measures will likely lead to a crisis at NSSI. He suggested the only way to mitigate the risk of the budget plummeting is to carefully define the scope of people, who receive sick leave for quarantine. The criteria should be more precise and should not include anyone who is returning from a country with a coronavirus outbreak, Ademov said.
As there is no rule or official policy on this so it is likely that GPs will have to decide on a case to case basis. Ademov recons people with compromised immune systems, chronic illnesses should definitely be put under quarantine, as well as others exhibiting symptoms.
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