Science - October 28, 2004

Non-EU employees are uninsured

A couple of foreign employees at the research institute PRI are not able to get health insurance, as they do not have a residence permit. But they can only obtain the residence permit if they can prove that they have a valid health insurance policy. The situation arose about two months ago, and since then the employees have been uninsured.

According to Dutch legislation health insurance companies are not allowed to insure people who have no valid residence permit. However, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) does not give permits to employees from outside the EU that have no health insurance. Until recently this was not much of a problem, as the rules were not followed closely. But now that IND has tightened up this legislation has leads to problems for newly arrived employees who have neither a residence permit, nor health insurance.

Dr Chun Ming Liu is a researcher with PRI and the supervisor of a PhD student from China. This student has tried many times to get health insurance, so far without success. His residence permit may take six months or more to arrive. ‘It is so bureaucratic,’ says Liu, ‘And so far, there is no way out.’ He had the same problem five years ago, but was fortunate that he found a way out relatively easily.

In addition to the impossible legislation, IND is very slow in handling residence permit requests. ‘In some cases the permit has only been ready after the person has already left,’ says Diana Kakerissa of the International Agricultural Centre (IAC). The IAC has no problems in insuring their own course participants as it has a special insurance, which is also available to many of the people who come to the university on a scholarship.

The central HRM department only heard of the situation this week and has decided to take immediate action. After a preliminary investigation of the problems, they should know more by next week. But until the problem is solved the employees will remain uninsured. /JH

Re:act