The FINANCIAL — The number of patients visiting hospitals for preventive examinations has increased in Georgia. Doctors are saying that this is a result of the development of the insurance market and healthcare programmes provided by the Ministry of Health.
Giorgi Gigolashvili, President of the Insurance Institute of Georgia, explains that insured people who do not use the medical service cover the expenses of those who use it. “In this case the principle of solidarity is at work. Healthy people finance less healthy ones. The main interest of an insurance company is to have millions of insured clients and a few of them who use the services included in the insurance packages. Otherwise, if all the clients use their insurance package then the insurance company will lose all profit,” Gigolashvili said.
According to the Insurance Institute of Georgia about 900 thousand people use the state social insurance programme while 500 thousand people are corporate clients. “State social insurance is purely profitable for citizens because the insurance fee is covered by the budget,” said Gigolashvili. “These are vulnerable people. But if a person is not vulnerable, an insurance package will cost more than preventive care. In this case, if a person is totally healthy then it makes more sense for them to buy accident risk insurance rather than a preventive care insurance package. For those people who visit hospitals frequently, a preventive care package is more useful. People should choose their insurance package with care and should know how to use it properly,” he added.
Healthcare expenses usually cost more than 100 GEL per visit while the average health insurance package costs just 25 GEL a month. Here are the average prices of preventive examinations in private clinics of Georgia: blood test – 18 GEL, blood glucose levels – 8 GEL, urine analysis – 11 GEL, prothrombin – 11 GEL, cardiogram and abdominal ultrasound – 60 GEL. But in state clinics prices are almost half as much.
“In any case, whether a person is insured or not, preventive care is cost-saving,” said Gigolashvili. “It is better to spend money on a preventive examination than on curing a problem. Curing is always more expensive then preventive care. Preventive care is cost-saving not just for people, but for the insurance company as well. Insurance companies prefer to pay for preventive care as the costs are less, than to pay for curing as the costs are almost always higher,” he added.
Doctors also claim that preventive healthcare is a cost-saving tool that improves one’s health. They say that preventive care is important for managing the health as many of the top risk factors leading to illness and premature death are preventable.
“Even if a person is healthy they should go to preventive examinations nonetheless. Despite it being related to costs, prevention is less expensive than treatment and is easier than curing,” said Giorgi Giorgobiani, Aversi Clinical Director. “I am a surgeon and have seen lots of cases where surgery has been necessary due to the fact that the disease was not diagnosed in time. A surgeon’s costs are much higher than preventive care,” he added.
“A person may have some pathological disease and have no idea about it for a long time. That is why it is so vital to monitor their health periodically. In this case it is possible to catch problems at an early stage,” said Ketevan Gviniashvili, family doctor. “Both for doctor and patient it is easier to make healthy lifestyle decisions when you have the information and guidance of a healthcare provider. Nowadays people go to clinics for preventive examinations more frequently than they did in the past,” she added.
“I admit that financial problems prevent many patients from enacting their desire to control their health. But those people who are under financial pressure are able to participate in privileged projects,” said Lili Mumladze, Doctor Therapist of PSP’s New Hospital. “Propaganda of preventive care has played a role in raising public awareness, and demand for preventive examinations has increased as a result. But I would say that this culture is still relatiely low in the country,” she added.
Insurance companies are actively involved in organizing medical services at clinics as well. The companies agree with doctors that insurance programmes encourage people to visit clinics periodically. “The number of people who actively use an insurance policy and get medical treatment in different directions keeps increasing,” said Maiko Ivchenko, Head of the PR Division at Insurance Company Aldagi BCI. “Aldagi BCI offers 80 sorts of health insurance products. The procedure of getting insurance is simple at our company. For health insurance alone we have more than 200,000 insured clients. Aldagi BCI is experiencing 200 percent growth of health insurance,” she added.