Medical insurance for immigrants

Who will pay for the medical insurance of immigrants?

According to Dmitri Valentei, Project Development Coordinator in the
International Organisation for Immigration in Moscow, who spoke at the
round-table conference ‘Medical and Legal Issues of Immigration in Russia’,
onde person with tuberculosis can pass it on to around fifteen people per year. Furthermore, the
illness is one of the most common amongst immigrants, particularly illegal
immigrants. Valentei said “Immigrants should be tested in their motherland.
They can also get medical insurance that will be valid in Russia. It is
essential that immigrants get a health check before coming to Russia. This will
identify illnesses that could pose a risk to citizens in the host country.” In
Valentei’s view immigrants living in Russia also need to get regular health

Alexander Gorbunov, Associate Professor and head of the Organisation for
Physiotherapy in the Moscow Health Facility, stated that more than 40% of those
who contract tuberculosis for the first time do not live permanently in the
capital. According to Gorbunov 159 in every 1000 immigrants (15%) have tuberculosis. This is thirty times
as high as permanent residents of the capital.

Gorbunov confirmed that all foreign citizens with tuberculosis have
received free medical treatment in Moscow. In 2011 more than 354 million
roubles was spent on this provision. But according to Georgii Gadenko, deputy
director of the department of Immigrant Employment and Labour in the Ministry
of Health and Social Development (MHSD), the federal law ‘Protection of the
Health of Russian citizens’ which came into force on 1 January 2012 law
stipulates that only emergency medical treatment will be provided for free.
Other forms of treatment must be paid for. Immigrants permanently residing in
Russia will have to buy medical insurance whilst those living temporarily in
the country can choose whether to buy insurance. Employers will pay for the
medical insurance of highly qualified foreign specialists. However, most
immigrants do not have well paid jobs and employers do not offer a medical
insurance policy.

Who should pay for the medical insurance of immigrants? Gadenko believes
that all people who enter Russia should have medical insurance. For the time
being, however, as no-one oversees the issue it is the decision of immigrants
whether or not to get insurance. Checks can be done by border officials on
whether immigrants have medical insurance. This method is currently being
developed by the MHSD.

Inna Matveeva, employee of the organisation ‘Immigration in the 21st
Century’, has suggested another method of solving the problem. She thinks it is
essential to finalise an agreement with CIS countries stipulating that
immigrants who have medical insurance in their motherland can use it in Russia.
Furthermore, she has highlighted the necessity of establishing a system for
examining immigrants in the CIS countries and she supports creating a general
database of companies that offer medical insurance and people with medical
insurance. The corresponding agreement was prepared by the MHSD, debated in
parliament and resubmitted for changes.

Anna Gerber, president of the fund ‘Holocaust’ and member of Russia’s
public chamber Commission on Ethnic Relations and Freedom of Conscience, had
another suggestion on how to provide accessible medical treatment to
immigrants. She said it was “essential to develop a database of regions,
districts, and cities and their demand for foreign specialists. Immigrants will
be guaranteed a job and the state will provide free accommodation and medical
care whilst they live in the country.”

by Lina Numan



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