4. Paying for services
Adequate funding for health is important to manage the excess demands on the health system. This section considers how countries are PAYING FOR COVID-19 SERVICES. Health financing describes how much is spent on health and the distribution of health spending across different service areas. The section also describes who is covered for COVID-19 testing and treatment, whether there are any notable gaps (in population coverage and service coverage), and how much people pay (if at all) for those services out-of-pocket.
4.1 Health financing
Screening for and treatment of COVID-19 is completely covered through the Health Insurance Fund for all persons who are residing or staying in the Republic of Serbia.
According to the Healthcare Law, Article 11, paragraph 6 (http://www.pravno-informacioni-sistem.rs/SlGlasnikPortal/eli/rep/sgrs/skupstina/zakon/2019/25/2), and the Law on Health Insurance, Article 16, paragraph 5 (http://www.pravno-informacioni-sistem.rs/SlGlasnikPortal/eli/rep/sgrs/skupstina/zakon/2019/25/1), patients that are treated for infectious diseases are covered by health insurance, even if they do not qualify for the status of an insured person. According to Article 239 of Healthcare Law, Paragraph 4, for foreigners suffering from infectious diseases which require the person to be placed under medical supervision in accordance with the regulations governing the protection of the population against infectious diseases, health care costs will be reimbursed from the budget of the Republic of Serbia.
On 25 March, the Government decided to transfer 2.2 billion RSD (20.8 million USD) to the Health Insurance Fund (HIF) to alleviate the effects COVID-19 (https://www.blic.rs/biznis/vesti/vlada-srbije-prebacuje-22-milijarde-dinara-rfzo-za-ublazavanje-posledica-korone/xcfehkz). This is just a segment of Government’s funds allocated to the COVID-19 response, but the complete data is still not available. Additional funds were allocated for an increase of salaries for all healthcare workers in the country, additional employment and procurement of equipment like ventilators, investments in renovation and repurpose of hospitals and procurement of PPE. Additionaly, the military health system was fully included in the COVID-19 response, and that is covered by other budget lines (budget for the Military of Defense).
In regard of external support, on 20 March, the European Union granted Serbia EUR 7.5 million to combat the COVID-19 outbreak (http://europa.rs/eu-urgently-grants-e7-5-million-to-fight-covid-19/?lang=en). On 26 March, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, announced a package of measures to support Serbia in the fight against Coronavirus. The package includes financial assistance worth EUR 93 million with immediate measures of EUR 15 million (https://europa.rs/the-european-union-announces-93-million-euros-to-serbia-to-fight-coronavirus/?lang=en). On 12 March, the Prime Minister anounced that the World Bank had offered to provide USD 20 milion to alleviate the effects of COVID-19 (https://www.srbija.gov.rs/vest/450438/ekonomske-mere-povodom-situacije-u-vezi-sa-koronavirusom.php).
The President of Serbia announced on 10 March that all health workers would receive a 10% pay increase from 1 April 2020 as an expression of gratitude for their fight against COVID-19 (https://www.vesti-online.com/vucic-zdravstvenim-radnicima-povecanje-plate-od-deset-odsto/).
The Government of Serbia presented to the Parliament on 10 November 10, the budget that was being amended for a second time this year to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The amended budget includes 1,291.4 billion Dinars (1 Euro – 118 Dinars) in income and 1,774.4 billion in expenditure which means that the deficit will be 483 billion Dinars. The amended budget includes nine billion Dinars for COVID-19 hospitals in Belgrade and Krusevac, as well as added funding to continue hospital and medical centre reconstruction, medical equipment and medication as well as health care system and staff. Farmers will also get subsidies totalling 5.1 billion Dinars (http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a670361/Finance-Minister-tells-MPs-budget-amended-to-fight-pandemic.html).