Dependence insurance debated

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In November 1997, Luxembourg's Social Institute hosted a debate involving trade unions and employers on the Government's plan to introduce "dependence insurance", to cover against becoming dependent through disability, illness or age.

Every year, Luxembourg's Social Institute (Institut social) organises a "social week" in which social issues of current interest are analysed with the help of visiting experts. On 16 November 1997, the closing theme of the 1997 week was an analysis of the current state of government intentions in the light of the reactions exhibited by all affected parties, and particularly employers' associations and trade unions, to draft legislation that was lodged in October 1996 introducing "dependence insurance". This would be compulsory social insurance giving dependent people a right to assistance and care and guaranteeing the means to pay for them. A "dependent person" is deemed to be one who, as a result of physical, mental or psychological illness, is in urgent and regular need of a third person to help with essential daily acts such as personal hygiene, eating, mobility and household tasks.

"Round table" participants at the conference were agreed on the need to introduce this form of insurance, but disagreed fundamentally on how it should be funded. Discussion showed that the Government's original intention (which took its lead from the German model and introduced several "degrees of dependence") had been replaced by a "fee-for-service" system.

The Government has not been able to fulfil its intention of introducing this insurance scheme in time for 1998. However, the coming months are likely to produce a funding solution that could well introduce an additional contribution on pay.

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