TBILISI, DFWatch – A new study shows that the as the health care sector in Georgia has been privatised, the private health business has gained control over the hospitals.

Herald De Bour, project coordinator for Transparency International’s study, said that 40 percent of new hospital owners are insurance companies.

“The transfer of social insurance from voucher system to social system allowed insurance companies to become pure monopolists in some regions. Patients lost their opportunity to choose insurance provider or hospital on their own,” said De Bour.

Doctors who asked to remain anonymous told to the authors of the study that generally they prescribed medicines from a list supplied by Alpha. 95 percent of the medicines from the list are sold in Aversi.

According to the study, these medicines were prescribed to patients who receive social assistance, because they cannot afford to buy other medicines. Sometimes doctors recommend medicines which the insurance does not provide, so patients have to pay.

According to the study, Georgia has the highest prices on medicines in Europe: 102 percent of the norm. Paata Kurtanidze denied this and says that prices were not higher than 30 percent and all the figures in the study are wrong.

TI head Eka Gigauri said the report is based on data provided by the statistical department GeoStat and the web portal Invest in Georgia. They wrote to the heads of Aversi, PSP and GPC asking for their contribution, all abstained.

Another problem is the poor work conditions and low salary.

The average salary of a surgeon is from 150 to 300 GEL in the regions. One surgeon said that for one operation the hospital gets over 1 700 Georgian lari, but his monthly salary is 160 GEL.

Payment of salary is often delayed, especially in the regions. However, Eka, a nurse at Tbilisi burn center said: “Our salaries were delayed for four months. We did not leave our jobs because we wanted our earned money and were afraid of unemployment too”.

Irakli Urushadze, project director, said that permanent monitoring and the governments’ attention is necessary to solve these problems in the hospital sector.