IAKIR – 5 million unable to receive health services over debts

5 million unable to receive health services over debtsAround 5 million people in Turkey are unable to receive public health services due to unpaid social security premium debts owed to the state, experts have warned.The government introduced a nationwide public health insurance scheme back in 2012.

The state covers each individualand#39s health expenses until he or she graduates from university, according to the scheme, termed the General Health Insurance (GSS). The GSS requires citizens to pay monthly social security premiums after the age of 25.

Back in 2012, the government said graduates would continue to receive free public health services if they can prove that they are unemployed or cannot afford to pay the premiums. Very few people say they are aware of the requirement which enables one to be exempt, which the state calls the andldquoincome test.

andrdquoThose attending university are supposed to take this test — which is administered by various social aid organizations — before the age of 25, while high school students must take it by the age of 20 and those not attending school are obligated to take the test before the age of 18. If the results yield a per capita income of less than TL 400 a month, the state is obliged to pay that personand#39s premium, but if they earn more than TL 400, they are obliged to pay a premium based on their income.

However, most unemployed recent graduates are unaware of the existence of this test.Analysts say the GSS system has not yielded the desired results, with the state having to hold millions of people responsible for debts without checking if they are employed or not.

Today, tens of thousands of them are jobless university graduates with premium debts to the state.andldquoI checked on the Internet, and I have a debt of TL 6,000.

I am not working anywhere and I have no income of any kind, yet I am supposed to be paying off debt for a hospital that is of no use to me,andrdquo said recent graduate Murat T, speaking to Todayand#39s Zaman. Murat is among the 7 million people holding social premium debts, which currently total TL 9 million, according to the Turkish Doctors Union (TTB).

Five million of these people are barred from receiving health care services due to their debts.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman