Reader ‘s opinion Kela’s travel reimbursement policies need to be updated

It is difficult for a disabled person to accept that they are allowed to go for a blood test on a Kela ride but not to be vaccinated.

Association of the Disabled and the Association of the Visually Impaired are announced on January 18, 2021 in its position expressed concern about receiving a coronary vaccine if a disabled person is unable to go to the vaccination station on their own. Kela does not reimburse taxi or disabled taxi trips.

Currently, a taxi only reimburses trips related to the treatment or examination of an illness. Preventive treatments and measures such as vaccination, pedicure for diabetics and mass screening for women are not covered by the trips reimbursed by Kela.

It is also more difficult for people with disabilities to use substance abuse or mental health services than other residents. Kela requires a referral, so there is no travel allowance for municipal low-threshold services that operate without a referral. For example, all health centers in Helsinki have both substance abuse and mental health nurses, but Kela does not reimburse these trips either, because the nurses are on the payroll of the Social Services Agency.

In everyday life, it is difficult for a disabled person to know, let alone accept, that it is permissible to go for a blood test on a Kela ride but not to be vaccinated. You can go to a health center to see a nurse or doctor, but not to a mental health or substance abuse nurse in the same building just because you can’t use public transportation.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities made disability a human rights issue. In Finland, the agreement entered into force on 10 June 2016, almost half a decade ago.

Kela’s travel reimbursement policies are indeed worth updating. From now on, Kela should reimburse healthcare-related travel to a disabled person who is otherwise unable to travel by public transport due to his or her severe disability.

A reform of travel reimbursement practices is necessary to enable people with disabilities to have equal and exclusive access to all public health services.

Pirkko Justander

developer, Blue Ribbon Association Accessible work Emppa

Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS editorial. You can leave a comment or learn about the principles of writing at www.hs.fi/kirjtamielipidekirjoitus/.

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