IKA-ETAM insurance fund unveils action to reduce bureaucracy

IKA-ETAM, Greece's largest social insurance fund representing the majority of Greece's salaried workforce, on Thursday unveiled a raft of measures for cutting down on red tape and extending electronic communication with other organisations and bodies.
The measures will use new technologies to simplify procedures and reduce the number of visits that those insured by IKA-ETAM need to make to IKA branches, while they boost productivity and efficiency but also promote transparency.
Another aim is to enable cross-checking of supporting documentation to ensure it is genuine and eliminate cases of benefit fraud.
IKA-ETAM is also planning a reorganisation with the creation of 13 regional headquarters and the merger of several sub-branches in order to cut costs and organise staff into efficient sub-branches.
Some of measures already in effect include scrapping previously required supporting documentation in a number of transactions with other public sector agencies, such as IKA certificates demanded for unemployment benefits, family benefits, rent support and other types of welfare payments. Due to the electronic communication system, these agencies will now be able to check an applicant's social insurance records electronically.
Since the requirement for these certificates was scrapped in June 2011, there have already been 61,500 fewer visits by members of the public to IKA-ETAM branches.
When the online system is fully operational, IKA-ETAM services will also be able to obtain information and supporting documentation issued by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) or the services of the interior ministry (birth, death, marriage certificates, family status certificates etc).
It has also scrapped a system for issuing benefits based on employer certifications, first introduced in 2002 but now superseded by electronic systems and open to abuse by those supplying fake documents.
A third change is allowing IKA insured to apply for compensation for health care costs covered by IKA-ETAM at any IKA branch, rather than going to exclusively to the branch for the area where they live or work. Payment of any health care benefits has been made directly into a bank account since June 6, 2011, cutting down on long waiting times.

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