The way we buy our medicines will change with the implementation of Cyprus’ new National Health Scheme (NHS).
The first and main change is that we will get all our medicines from private chemists and not from the hospital pharmacy
A second change is that we will not pay for our medicines at the current prices but, if we choose the scheme the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) offers us, we will only pay a €1 supplement payment for each package.
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The HIO has been created to administer the Fund established financing the new NHS.
The €1 supplement applies to the brand of medication included on an HIO list, including generic makes. If we choose another equivalent brand because we consider it a better fit for ourselves we pay only the difference in price. For example, if we buy the product on the HIO list we will pay €1 regardless of how much the HIO purchased it for. But, if we choose a brand being sold for €8 and which is not on the list but which cost the HIO €5, we will only pay only the €3 price difference.
The list of medications put forward by the HIO will be updated at regular intervals to reflect developments in the field of pharmaceuticals with the aim of the best possible service to the beneficiaries.
According to HIO, ” the Council of Ministers will appoint an Advisory Committee on Medicines to submit recommendations to the HIO Board of Directors on the establishment of the list of pharmaceuticals, the evaluation of new medications, the approval for the provision of costly, limited or medications of doubtful efficacy as well as the adoption of clinical guidelines and protocols for the administration of each medication “.
Also, for purposes of transparency the Cabinet will approve a Medicines Review Board as well as a Medications Compensation Committee to advise the HIO Board of Directors on the compensation for pharmaceutical products that are included or will be included in the list of pharmaceutical products.
According to the HIO, the implementation of the NHS is expected to create much better management of pharmaceuticals, since on the one hand pharmaceutical options will be provided to patients and on the other hand mechanisms will be introduced for more effective pharmaceutical use and the reduction of abuse.
Any savings that arise—such as from a preference for generic medications– will be channelled to the benefit of patients, for example, to cover innovative and usually very costly medicines.
In practice, after obtaining a prescription from a doctor, the patient will be able to obtain his medication from any pharmacy by presenting the prescription to the pharmacist.
The pharmacist will find the prescription on the NHS computerised system and will fill it.
The pharmacist will also be responsible for informing the patent of any options available to him so that the recipient freely chooses between the preparation fully covered by the NHS or a more expensive preparation by paying the difference.
However, it is important to note that in cases where product interchangeability is not applied, changing a product from a brand name to a generic product or generic to another, the NHS will cover treatment irrespective of whether there is a cheaper product and the recipient will not be obliged to pay the difference.
The amount of €1 that the recipient will pay for each medication package included in his doctor’s prescription has a double goal.
Firstly, because this will avoid the phenomenon of over-registration and abuse that results in the waste of money, and secondly because more medications than they require is likely to expose the patient to unnecessary risk.
For in-hospital medicines (ie medicines given to the patient when hospitalised) and in general for in-patient care, the patient will not have to make any supplementary payment.
In addition, for the financial protection of the beneficiary, a maximum annual supplement will be set. That is, if a beneficiary due to their health condition often needs the services of the NHS, then the total amount of the supplement he will pay will have a ceiling and when the beneficiary reaches the amount of this ceiling they will stop paying the supplement until the end of the year.
It is also worth noted that in the case of patients with chronic illnesses, doctors will be able to provide repeat prescriptions for a period for six months so that the patient will not have to return to their doctor for a new prescription before then.