Healthcare coverage for unemployed extended

Greece's unemployed will have longer-term healthcare coverage according to an amendment introduced on Friday by Labor and Social Security Minister Giorgos Koutroumanis. According to the new provision, people who are recently unemployed are eligible for full medical coverage after being able to produce 50 benefit stamps (each of which represents one day of work on full pay)instead of the current 80 per year.

The provision also extends the period during which unemployed people are eligible for health coverage after losing their jobs to three years from the current two.

Koutroumanis said that the provision is necessary «given the serious problems of unemployment and under-employment faced by the Greek workforce, which result in them remaining out of work for a long period of time, rendering them unable to re-enter the system."

Greece currently has an unemployment rate of nearly 21 percent, with young people hit the hardest.

The provision is effective from March 1 and is valid for one year.

It covers unemployed people who have managed to collect 50 stamps during 2011 or in the past 50 days. It also benefits unemployed people aged between 29 and 55 whose health insurance expired on December 31, 2011, or will expire within 2012, as the duration of their coverage is extended through to December 31, 2012.

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