Government faces new health insurance setback

TT/The Local/rm
TT/The Local/rm - [email protected]
Government faces new health insurance setback

The government is expected to face a new defeat in the Riksdag on Thursday after the far-right Sweden Democrats said they will side with the centre-left opposition's proposed reforms to Sweden's public health insurance system.


The changes, set to be debated on Thursday in the Riksdag's social insurance committee, would make it easier for people to receive extensions of their long-term sickness benefits.

“The centre-left initiative is welcome and is broadly in line with the Sweden Democrat policies on health insurance,” committee member Erik Almqvist of the Sweden Democrats wrote in an opinion article in the daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

Almqvist said his party planned to support the proposition, which would let those that had stopped receiving payments to get back on the scheme even if they have no previous income.

Sickness benefits, along with many other benefits provided by the Swedish social insurance programmes, are often based on sickness benefit qualifying income (Sjukpenninggrundande inkomst- SGI).

Like the centre-left opposition parties, the Sweden Democrats also want to see a more “reasonable and realistic” assessment of people's work ability in relation to the needs of the labour market.

Almqvist wrote that a potential reform of the current time limits on health insurance could also be in the offing after more information on the consequences have been collated and assessed.

According to Almqvist the government health insurance reform may have righted a few wrongs but “at the same time it led to vulnerable people being caught in the middle in an unacceptable way”.

In April, the Swedish government proposed a number of changes to its reforms, admitting its current efforts have left some people in a jam.

Sweden's new, tougher health insurance rules, which were adopted several years ago, have been the subject of near constant criticism.

But according to the Sweden Democrats, the government’s efforts are far from adequate.

“We can’t wait several years for a new government proposition,” Almqvist wrote in SvD.

The centre-left parties don't want to "wait to fix at least the worst shortcomings in health insurance".

According to their proposal, people who have or have had time limited sickness compensation (sjukersättning) and who lack and income should be allowed to re-enter the insurance scheme so they can receive benefits in line with the level they had previously.

In addition, they want to put a stop to having people getting kicked out of the insurance system altogether, although people who are on receiving benefits should still have the right to partake in employment-reintroduction programmes without having losing their benefits.

The centre-left also wants to have the assessments of people's ability to work that take place after 180 days to be carried out in a way similar to that methods used prior to changes implemented in 2008.

The 2008 reforms were meant to address the problem of a spiralling sick leave rate among Sweden's generally healthy population.

The reforms to sick benefits have resulted in a large number of people moving into work or training programmes and placed a limit on the time people could be on sick leave.

People who have been on state sick benefits for more than 180 days have since been forced to either apply for work or training, or to seek lower sick benefits from Sweden’s social insurance agency.


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