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Mandatory insurance cancelled (5.1.1999)

Foreign visitors entering Ukraine may find comfort in the government’s latest move. Officials have announced that Ukraine will cancel mandatory health insurance for all visitors arriving to the country.

Foreign visitors entering Ukraine may find comfort in the government’s latest move. Officials have announced that Ukraine will cancel mandatory health insurance for all visitors arriving to the country.

Helena Antropova, the Cabinet’s spokeswoman, confirmed May 29 that the government had approved a resolution annulling obligatory medical insurance for foreign citizens entering Ukraine. The decision also affects Ukrainian citizens leaving the country.

Though the draft resolution proposes canceling the regulation as of Sept. 1, Antropova said the decision may become effective sooner.

She said the move should make entering Ukraine a simpler procedure for international travelers.

“The goal is to bring Ukraine’s border regulations into compliance with international standards,” she said.

That came as welcome news to foreign organizations like the American Chamber of Commerce, which had lobbied against the requirement.

According to Executive Director Jorge Zukoski, the chamber was never opposed to the concept of Ukrainian Health Insurance offered to foreigners at the borders.

“What we have made clear to the Ukrainian authorities is that we believe making the health insurance a mandatory requirement is an incorrect policy that further impedes business and leisure travelers,” Zukoski said.

Since 1997, foreign citizens arriving to Ukraine were required to buy medical insurance at the border, regardless of whether they had international health coverage.

The local insurance policy covered emergency medical care and cost between $10 and $50, depending on the term of stay.

The regulation has consistently outraged international travelers who regarded the requirement as a mere racketeering practice.

The government has finally caught on to the idea, too.

“When an American or a Frenchman is coming to Ukraine, why does he have to insure himself on the border if he already has insurance coverage in Ukraine?” said Vitaly Antonyuk, an official at the State Border Committee, a government body that drafted the resolution annulling the regulation.

Antonyuk said the change was suggested by the Foreign Affairs Ministry. He said his agency initially planned to cancel obligatory medical insurance for citizens of the United States, the European Union and Japan only, but ultimately decided to drop the requirement for all foreigners.

The decision is a blow to Ukrinmedstrakh, a Canadian-Ukrainian joint venture that held the sole right to provide medical insurance to foreigners entering Ukraine. Ukrinmedstrakh was set up specifically for the job back in 1997. The company is 40 percent owned by the state and 48 percent owned by Amadeus II, a Canadian firm.

Borys Sharykov, deputy chairman of the board at Ukrinmedstrakh, said the government’s decision to cancel mandatory health insurance for foreigners was an economically unwise move.

“It’s a very big mistake,” Sharykov said. “The state will lose a lot of revenue.”

He said his company pumped Hr 2 million (about $370,000) into state coffers annually. He suggested that the decision to cancel the regulation was prompted by Ukrinmedstrakh’s competitors, who “envied” his company’s monopoly position in the burgeoning market.

© Vitaly Sych, Kyiv Post Staff Writer (05.01.1999)


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