On 23 May 2015, on air on Rustavi 2, Leader of the United National Movement, Zurab Chiaberashvili, stated that the money allocated for the Universal Healthcare programme is insufficient and the Ministry will be forced to add money to the budget from other articles as well. According to his calculations, the Universal Healthcare programme will need an additional GEL 80 million by the end of the year. He also said that, in order to decrease expenditure, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia determined the prices of critical care medicine and emergency cases at the end of March.

According to the Deputy Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia, Zaza Sopromadze, talks about over-spending are not relevant and everything is according to the budget. He connected the "relatively high spending in the first months of the current year" with seasonality and stated that the number of cases/consultations is higher in spring which increases spending on healthcare.

FactCheck

took interest in the expenditure of the Universal Healthcare programme and attempted to provide readers with factual data.

The budget of the Universal Healthcare programme for the first six months of 2015 has been set at GEL 231.5 million. However, the budget of the first half of 2015 later increased to GEL 236.7 million. According to the operative statistics of the State Treasury, by the data of 1 June 2015, a total of GEL 220.2 million was spent on the Universal Healthcare programme. Hence, 93% of the six-month budget was already implemented in the period from January to May and the amount of money left to spend in June equalled just GEL 16.5 million when the average monthly cost of the programme amounts to GEL 44 million.

According to the 10 June 2015 operative data of the State Treasury, the cost of the programme amounted to GEL 236.3 million. Hence the six-month plan was corrected and increased to GEL 248.7 million. Overall, the money allocated for the Universal Healthcare programme in the first half of the year has already increased by GEL 17 million.

It should be pointed out that the Universal Healthcare programme budget turned out to be insufficient in 2014 as well. A total of GEL 200 million was planned in the budget for the programme whilst the actual expenditure had gone up to GEL 338.4 by the end of the year. Hence, the cost of the Universal Healthcare programme in 2014 exceeded the initially planned cost by GEL 138 million.

The state budget data make clear that the costs of the Universal Healthcare programme have a high rate of growth.

Chart 1:

 Costs of the Universal Healthcare Programme (GEL million)

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It should be noted that healthcare experts state financial risks among the biggest challenges to the Universal Healthcare programme. Given the background when the state occupies the greatest share of the insurance market, the Universal Healthcare programme is run by the Social Service Agency and private insurance companies are not involved in the process. The number of people using private insurance decreased drastically since the enactment of the Universal Healthcare programme. This condition increases the expenditure of the state, on the one hand, and hinders the existence and development of the health insurance market, on the other.

In order to find out whether or not the high costs of the Universal Healthcare programme in 2015 are connected with the factor of seasonality, we requested the data of the 2014-2015 monthly expenditure of the programme from the State Treasury. If we look at the costs of the programme in the previous years, it is evident that it has the highest cost in autumn and in December as well. Hence, it is not unlikely that the costs of the Universal Healthcare programme will exceed the planned amount at the end of 2015 as well.

Chart 2:

 Costs of the Universal Healthcare Programme by Month (GEL million)

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It should also be pointed out that according to the 31 March 2015 Directive of the Social Service Agency, the tariffs of critical cases and intensive therapy have been determined in terms of the Universal Healthcare programme. The tariffs were not determined before. Hence, hospitals will receive the amount of money set by the state (not according to demand) in critical and emergency cases. The aforementioned change will make it easier for the state to manage the expenditure, on the one hand, but has already caused the dissatisfaction of hospital representatives, on the other, who explain that the set tariffs are low. According to the statement of the Director General of the Geo Hospital: "The new tariffs will cause the availability and the quality of medical service to worsen drastically."

Conclusion

The state budget data make clear that the costs of the Universal Healthcare programme have a high rate of growth. The funding of the programme amounted to GEL 70 million in 2013. The budget of the programme was set at GEL 200 million in 2014; however, this amount turned out to be insufficient and a total of GEL 338 million was spent. A total of GEL 470 million has been allocated for the Universal Healthcare programme in 2015.

The six-month budget plan of the Universal Healthcare programme was GEL 231.5 million; however, it later increased to GEL 236.7 million. According to the data of 10 June 2015, the costs of the programme have already reached GEL 236.3 million. Hence, the six-month budget was corrected and increased to GEL 248.7 million. As we can see, the Universal Healthcare programme has already seen a lack of funds and it was necessary to make changes to the budget.

In addition, if we look through the data of the previous year, the highest costs of the programme are recorded not in spring but in autumn and in the month of December as well. Hence, it is not at all unlikely that the costs of the Universal Healthcare programme will increase in the same period of 2015 as well.

FactCheck concludes that Zaza Sopromadze’s statement about the costs of the Universal Healthcare programme is a LIE.

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