Social & Economic rights

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Latest Conditioning Related to Applying for Health Insurance by Persons of Roma Nationality – Inapplicable Solutions

The latest amendments to the Regulation on the content, form and manner of submitting a unique application for mandatory social insurance, unique methodological principles and unique codex of codes for entry of data in the unique basis of the Central Register of mandatory social insurance (hereinafter Regulation) envisage that, in addition to enclosing a statement on nationality, persons of Roma nationality should also submit evidence of registration of permanent residence at the address of institution or social welfare centre (SWC) when applying for health insurance.

However, these amendments have not removed the problem referring to impossibility of persons of Roma nationality who do not have permanent or temporary residence registered and who do not fulfil conditions for insurance on any other basis to obtain health booklets.

Even though the Law on Health Insurance defines members of Roma national minority as a particularly vulnerable category of the insured and recognizes the specific characteristics of their social, material and health status, offering legal basis for regulating the issue of access to health insurance in a simple and acceptable manner, the stated amendments to the Regulation again condition the application for health insurance with the request to submit registration of permanent or temporary residence. Thus the by-law subsequently changes the purpose of the law to disadvantage of the rights of citizens guaranteed by the law. Besides, it should be pointed out that, in the period from July 2010 to March 2012, the branch offices of the Republic Fund for Health Insurance directly implemented the provisions of the Rulebook of the Method and Procedure of Exercise of Rights from the Mandatory Health Insurance, amended in the procedure for legislative review before the Constitutional Court, initiated by Praxis: persons of Roma nationality could have applied for health insurance on the basis of statement on the place of temporary residence (in addition to the statement that they belong to Roma nationality), without enclosing confirmation of permanent/temporary residence registration. In this period, a satisfactory level of protection of Roma population related to the possibility to access the right to health insurance and health care was achieved. Thus, every further deviation from previously established practice and achieved level of human rights may also be observed as violation of Article 20, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia which prescribes that “attained level of human and minority rights may not be lowered.”

However, the greatest problem in the application of the newly adopted provision lies in the fact that it was brought relying on the solutions offered in the new Law on Permanent and Temporary Residence of Citizens and the related by-laws that envisage the possibility of registering permanent residence at the address of the social welfare centre, but these solutions are not consistently applied. The reason for this is nonexistence of detailed information and guidelines on the manner of proceeding of state bodies and services. There have been disputes related to interpretation of the provisions of the Instruction for acting upon registration of permanent residence at the address of SWC of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Policy ever since its adoption. Since the beginning of 2013, there have been several official meetings organized dedicated to resolving the disputable issues related to the possibility to register permanent residence at the address of SWC, which have also been attended by Praxis representatives. Satisfactory solutions or guidelines have not been reached at any of these meetings, not even through the discussion of participants – representatives of state and other bodies, organizations and institutions. Following the entry into force of the new Law on Permanent and Temporary Residence of Citizens, on behalf of its clients, Praxis initiated several procedures for registration of permanent residence at the address of the SWC, but due to the existing weaknesses of the legislation in this field, only one procedure has been successfully solved.

Under the present conditions, deciding upon requests for registration of permanent residence at the address of SWC has not been applied as prescribed by the law so far. It is clear that the solution prescribed by the Regulation will not facilitate the access to rights from health insurance for the persons of Roma nationality, at least not under the present conditions. Bearing in mind the fact that this is one of the most vulnerable population groups in Serbia, the existing legislation in this field should be changed as soon as possible and the members of Roma population ensured access to health care and health insurance without being conditioned by fulfilment of the administrative request related to registration of permanent/temporary residence.

Read more: Instructions for Proceeding in the Procedure for Registration of Permanent Residence at the Address of Social Welfare Center – New Bureaucratic Complications
Instruction of the Republic Fund of Health Insurance Related to Applying for Health Insurance by Persons of Roma Nationality – Deepening of the Problem

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action