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EUROPEAN COMMISSION

EU vaccine passports must prevent ‘discrimination’: European Commission

Europeans may be able to travel more freely this summer with a proposed new vaccination passport. But the European Commission urges caution and calls for certificates to be free from 'discrimination'.

EU vaccine passports must prevent 'discrimination': European Commission
(Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

The so-called “digital green pass” provides proof that a person has been vaccinated – or test results if they haven’t received their doses yet. The plans have been laid in a bid to open up travel and help flailing economies.

“The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism,” Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted.

However, in a draft document seen by Reuters, any future certificate must be free from discriminating information, such as whether people have been tested or have recovered.

The digital certificates are eagerly awaited by many countries in Europe, who rely on tourism and are hoping for an opening up this summer.

READ ALSO: Italy approves Covid-tested flights from US to Milan

But the European Commission clashed with some countries, including Germany, which claimed that vaccinations are not mandatory nor available to those who want it.

Angela Merkel told German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung: “First, it must actually be clearly resolved that vaccinated people are no longer infectious.”

“As long as the number of those who have been vaccinated is still so much smaller than the number who are waiting for vaccination, the state should not treat the two groups differently.”

READ ALSO: ‘Green pass’: European Commission to propose EU-wide vaccine passports for summer

President Macron also voiced concerns about the fairness of vaccine passports for young people at a virtual meeting of the member states.

Contained in the draft document, which aims to “facilitate free movement” during the pandemic, is a clause that states proof of vaccination should not discriminate against those who either refuse or are unable to access the doses, according to Reuters.

Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What does France’s ‘vaccine passport’ trial mean for travel in 2021?

What does this mean for those people who fall into this category? Can they still have a ‘Covid passport?

It’s still not clear and will come down to member states to decide how they enforce such a certificate – whether travel restrictions are lifted for those vaccinated is up to each country.

The news comes as pressure mounts for EU leaders amid criticisms of slow vaccine rollouts – it’s expected more answers come when they will discuss the proposal later in March.

Member comments

  1. It would be wonderful to have access to vaccine, so that we – those of us up sh.&t street – can contribute to the economy again….or at least have access to the Neustarthilfe if we can’t be vaccinated for another 6+ months.

    The situation is fast becoming ridiculous.

    So many people – who receive a monthly salary – are planning their next holidays. They aren’t always following the guidelines because they have nothing to lose (financially) and are selfish (morally).

  2. I respect Macron’s concerns, but my worry is exactly the opposite. I don’t mind seeing a small handful of older people get to move around and go on vacation a few months sooner while I stay at home; after all, the lockdown can be especially hard on them and they have less time to lose. But once most people are vaccinated, then the passport itself is a form a discrimination, and I fear that the few who remain will be marginalized – people like my relatives who have severe allergies and have been advised by medical professionals that it is not safe for them to receive the vaccine. I think we have to step away from the hysteria and remember that a vaccine is meant to establish herd immunity, and that as long as it does, it’s not necessary for every person to be vaccinated. I have travelled extensively in the EU and never once was I asked to prove my history of vaccination against small pox, polio or other diseases much deadlier than COVID19.

  3. Perhaps it would also be a good idea to include prior vaccinations against measles, TB, smallpox etc rather than just Covid-19, on any digital passport. In principle it is a good idea, but needs an element of diplomacy and long-term understanding if it is to really gain traction with the populations of Europe, or anywhere else for that matter.

  4. What about our healthcare privacy? What else can the powers that be demand of us? None of these jabs have been tested long term and we have no way of knowing the long term affects. So many have caused some serious side effects. If you are young and want children, I would be leery of any o9f theses jabs. If you have a history of blood clots in your family, be leery of Astro-Zeneca. I believe all contain aborted fetal tissue. Be informed.

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HEALTH INSURANCE

What isn’t covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

Switzerland’s basic health insurance is among the most expensive in the world, but there are certain services it doesn’t pay for. Here are some of the benefits the scheme won’t cover in full.

What isn't covered by Switzerland’s compulsory health insurance?

Basic insurance — KVG in German and LaMal in French and Italian —  is compulsory in Switzerland. It doesn’t come cheap, but it is quite comprehensive and includes coverage for illness, medications, tests, maternity, physical therapy, preventive care, and many other treatments.

It also covers accidents for those who do not have accident insurance through their workplace.

Basically, whatever the doctor orders is covered by KVG / LaMal, at least partially.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about health insurance in Switzerland

However, there are some treatments the basic insurance won’t pay for.

Experimental treatments

Any experimental treatments or drugs — that is, those not approved by the Swissmedic regulatory agency or the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) will not be covered.

This exclusion is not specifically Swiss; insurance schemes is most countries won’t cover unauthorised medical treatment either.

Dental care

In most cases, services such as teeth cleaning, dental fillings, root canals, tooth extractions, and orthodontic braces, are not included under basic insurance.

The only exceptions, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), are dental interventions “necessitated by a serious disorder of the masticatory system, or if such treatment is required to support and ensure the success of medical treatment for a severe general disorder (e.g. leukaemia, heart-valve replacement)”.

Most dental treatments are not covered. Photo by Pixabay

Eyeglasses and contact lenses

Compulsory health insurance will contribute up to 180 francs per year towards glasses and contact lenses prescribed by an ophthalmologist for children up to the age of 18.

No such benefit exist for adults. However, “in the case of serious visual impairment or certain illnesses (e.g. disease-related refraction abnormalities, postoperative alterations or corneal disease), compulsory health insurance will, regardless of age, make higher contributions towards medically prescribed spectacle and contact lenses”, FOPH says.

READ MORE: Reader question: Can Swiss health insurance exclude me if I have pre-existing conditions?

Ambulance

Emergency vehicles that transport you to a hospital can be quite expensive — depending on the canton, the costs can range from 900 to 2,000 francs per trip. 

Basic health insurance will contribute a certain amount  to the cost of emergency transportation, but only if it is a medical necessity — a serious accident, an illness, or a life-threatening situation. But if the patient could have travelled by private car or public transport, basic health insurance policies will pay nothing.

Insurance will cover some of the cost of ambulance transport only in emergency. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Private hospital room

While the cost of your hospitalisation will be fully covered, the basic insurance does not pay for a private room.

You will be accommodated in a room with other patients.

Depending on a medical facility — whether it’s a small hospital or a large, university medical centre, you could end up with just one other person or possibly four or five, the latter being common in teaching hospitals.

If you insist on a private accommodation, you will have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

Reader question: Can Swiss health insurance exclude me if I have pre-existing conditions?

Vaccines

Immunisations outlined by FOPH  will be paid for by insurance, as will the Covid vaccine.

Not covered, however, are travel-related vaccinations or preventive measures, such as against yellow fever or malaria.

Treatment abroad

Outside Switzerland, only emergency care is covered  — double the amount that the same treatment would cost in Switzerland.

Usually, basic health insurance will not cover transportation costs back to Switzerland, except in case of emergency, when it will cover 50 percent of the total cost of transportation to the nearest hospital abroad — but no more than 500 francs per year. 

If you only have a basic insurance policy and travel abroad often, especially to the United States, you should take out a travel insurance that will cover you for illness and accidents in foreign countries above and beyond what your Swiss carrier will pay.

And if you want to upgrade your treatment options, consider taking out a supplemental insurance or, if you can afford it, private one.

READ MORE: Should you buy supplemental health insurance in Switzerland?

You can find out more about what KVG / LaMal will and will not cover here.

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