New rules governing voluntary health insurance have been introduced, to ensure their compliance with EU insurance law.

This involves changes to The Health Insurance Act, including:

  • a requirement for voluntary health insurance to be provided by insurers (licensed under the Insurance Code) instead of by health insurance companies (licensed under the Health Insurance Act).
  • a deadline of 6 August 2013 for existing health insurance companies to bring their activities into compliance with the Insurance Code and to become licensed for the relevant classes of insurance. Their current licences will cease to be valid from 7 August 2013. The changes will affect 19 health insurance companies (according to the data from the FSC’s public register). Instead of obtaining an insurance license, they could close, or merge with or transfer their portfolios to an existing insurer.
  • existing voluntary health insurance agreements will remain valid until the earlier of their expiry or 7 August 2013.
  • a new ‘Health (medical) insurance’ section has been added to the Insurance Code. This requires medical insurance agreements to cover risks resulting from sickness or accident (i.e. the expenses for specified medical products and services), and also permits them to cover expenses for preventative measures, pregnancy and birth, transport, specialised or palliative care etc. This class of insurance can be for an unlimited term, in which case rising of the premium to reflect the ageing and declining health of the insured is not allowed.
  • Permanent health insurance, covering loss of income due to sickness or accidental injury, continues to exist either as a stand-alone policy or as part of the health (medical) insurance cover.
  • Insurers licensed to provide insurance for sickness and/or accident (general insurance classes) can be licensed for life insurance as well. Only insurers licensed to provide insurance for sickness (or sickness and accident) can include in their company names all or some of the words “voluntary”, “health” and “insurance” (in Bulgarian “осигуряване”) or derivatives thereof in Bulgarian or in another language.
  • Fees for visiting the doctor or dentist or spending a night in hospital (for up to 10 days a year) will be set by decree of the Council of Ministers instead of being based on the minimum wage. Current fee levels will apply until the first such decree.
  • Compulsory health insurance contributions may not be imposed for periods when the individual is covered by the EU health insurance scheme (and has given advance notice of this to the National Revenue Agency).

Law:

  • Health Insurance Act, published in State Gazette, Issue No. 70, dated 19 June 1998, as amended;
  • Amendment to the Health Insurance Act, published in State Gazette, issue No. 60, dated 7 August 2012, in effect as of 7 August 2012;
  • Insurance Code, published in State Gazette, Issue No. 103, dated 23 December 2005, as amended.