Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Insurance for foreign students

Beginning this fall the foreign (non-EU) students had to have a medical insurance to get a residence permit. Which might be no problem for people who live in the countries where they sell appropriate insurance for such purposes, but is quite a serious problem for everyone else.

Finland is most definitely not one of the countries where they sell such an insurance (for incoming students in any case, but I am not sure about the outgoing ones), and therein lies the problem.

The law was not the idea of its writers, but an implementation of the EU directive 2004/114/EY, which demands that all the non-EU students have health insurance in order to get a residence permit. The writers of the law are well aware of its problems and are clearly trying to do something about it, but there doesn't seem to be much they can do.

I doubt there is much point in the whole thing, considering that students are on average young and healthy, and considering that the university students are usually covered by student union's insurance. When I was a foreign student, the students were covered by the state insurance, and it would be interesting to know how much the state insurance system actually spent per student.

But anyway, the issue here IMO is not whether the state or the students should pay. The issue is that the students cannot buy something that nobody is selling, and no Finnish insurance company is selling them insurance. The Ministry of the Interior asked several companies, and the answers ranged from "definitely maybe" to "no fucking way".

What I am wondering about is why doesn't the Finnish state sell them insurance. Just offer them the same Kela insurance that everyone else has, and charge them for that.

Sounds so simple that there must be some EU directive against this somewhere.

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