What private insurance measures would benefit the business environment and the labor market?

A smart insurance contract in favor of the company's employees is an incentive to attract skilled executives and a serious competitive advantage in the labor market. In particular, in a period of wage moderation, private insurance can become a factor for the increase of entrepreneurship. It suffices if some basic rules are followed, such as comparative, pre-contractual information, adaptation to the employer's business goals and insurers' information. It seems like a new era and for innovative private insurance products on a European level. For example, personalized pension protection within the single market (known as European concern as personal pension products - PPPs) should be more important for insurance and credit institutions in our country.

Is there room for further development of the private health insurance and what prevents public-private partnerships in the health sector?

Private health insurance hasn’t reached its limits yet. The limited contributory capacity of the population has reduced the insurance interest in upgraded or integrated healthcare services. On the other hand, the state exploits to a large extent the sensitivity (still?) of the Greek family, supporting its members when they are in need of health care services. Health insurance products usually monitor state health benefits that are not predictable. There is room for the development of the insurance industry and the design of innovative (self-contained) health insurance coverage, as well the submission of realistic proposals for public-private partnerships with the private health care system. This partnership is prevented by particular policies of recent decades regarding the social (non-contributory) healthcare services provision. The concept of "necessary" health care provision must remain medical-centered. It is not intended to be seen as an area of ​​bargaining tension between public and private stakeholders in order to increase political or economic benefits. Studies of quantitative and qualitative assessment of chronic shortcomings of the state health system, which could be covered by a partnership with private services, are not being promoted to a satisfactory level.  It is estimated that investment and insurance interest would have existed to this direction.

Can pan-European or transnational pension schemes serve the tested public auxiliary insurance?

For this question, the answer is “yes” with some simple preconditions. It is a fact that the unified, public fund of supplementary and one-off pensions suffers from the demographic pressure of the increase in the beneficiaries and the lack of a State guarantee, so that - if no corrective action is taken – we will soon face problems of sustainability and inadequacy of benefits. Active insured workers supplement the pensions for the retired ones, but do not create the satisfactory expectations for their own pensions. This void is already causing concern to the trade unions that have necessarily consented to the merger in the single fund five years ago and are already worried about how they will fill the gap. In addition to the professional or private insurance available at a national level, remarkable solutions also prevail outside Greece. Indicatively, we may refer to the extension of existing (or evolving) pan-European pension schemes and the use of transnational pension systems with labor mobility countries. The coverage of this gap may be ensured by the ​​multinational companies who maintain open professional funds. One of the prerequisites is the link with foreign social partners who have initiated the establishment of pan-European or transnational pension schemes so that Greek workers can also benefit. Other conditions include the abatement of capital controls and the introduction of the exception (opting out) from double supplementary insurance contributions, which are currently only covered by insured persons in the four occupational funds of legal persons governed by public law.

Up till now, why has there not been necessary social consensus to deal with the social security problems? Are there positive perspectives?

The social partners in our country are in principle in agreement on many social security issues and have been the precursors of remarkable arrangements, such as tripartite funding (from the state, employers and employees).  In the latter, the National General Collective Labor Agreement discussions dealt with the introduction of a national-wide occupational insurance fund to prevent workers from falling below the minimum pensions. However, the consensus of the social partners is not enough, when the last word in a public institution belongs to the state. The maturity of governments and representatives of professional organizations in other countries has led to social consensus being respected in a social security reform, even if it entails some fiscal burden. It should be established in our country, as an unwritten fundamental rule, the respect for proposals of social consensus when it has actuarial evidence from published data. This would be a positive prospect of re-establishing a meaningful social dialogue in our country.

 If social security contributions are reduced, will labor-intensive enterprises be encouraged competitively to the detriment of modern technology companies?

Unfortunately this risk is mathematically valid. Companies with a large number of employees will be subject to fewer insurance contributions, while modern technology companies will not save similar operating costs. However, with a proportional tax burden on taxable turnover, this risk could be minimized.

 Given that the political world is in favor of occupational insurance, why does the legislator hesitate to facilitate this institution?

Indeed, the persistence of not modernizing the institution of occupational insurance is inexplicable. Each government, knowing the interest of society in the development of supplementary insurance schemes, uses the institution of the Professional Insurance Funds as a tool for promoting a certain economic policy or for satisfying those who are reacting to a particular social policy. For example, the National Actuarial Authority remained headless for many years so that no professional funds could be adopted and group insurance policies developed. Recently, the pledge has been made to facilitate the professional funds in scientific bodies in order to reduce the response to the excessive mandatory contributions to social security. Another reason that makes the Greek legislator hesitant, unlike the other countries, is the cautiousness that has been shown so far by the social partners in which taxation and other benefits of professional insurance are not convincing. No one would have expected, without a generalized pressure, that a “left-wing government” would proceed with the initiative to develop a private (optional) insurance institution. Perhaps under the pressure of the prevailing European trend, the relative hesitations could be overcome.

 Can the deregulation of industrial relations benefit economic growth on a national level?

Labor relations should be regulated when one of the two parties (employers or employees) has a markedly reduced bargaining power over the other, so that direct negotiation cannot be settled. It also occurs when the social partners with their agreements aim to bypass the democratically selected social policy. However, because economic and social reasons essentially affect the above considerations, the legislator and the administration usually resort to unnecessary or detailed rules, which is why there is a need for deregulation. On an operational level, where there is a common awareness on development interests, deregulation could benefit when entrepreneurship is hampered and indirect regulatory discrimination distorts healthy competition between similar businesses. On a national level, the deregulation of labor relations benefits only if it does not entail excessive reductions in the minimum levels of worker protection or excessive limitation of managerial rights. It does not mean deregulation of labor relations to an extent that frustrates labor efficiency as a factor of economic growth. On the contrary, it is imperative to deregulate labor relations in order to facilitate the international competitiveness of the country, which is a serious factor of economic development on a national level.

 By subsidizing vocational training, do we finally favor the countries where our trained workforce moves?

The economic crisis has increased the circulation of skilled and scientific workforce to other countries that provide more favorable employment conditions. The host countries are inevitably favored, but there is no need to stop the subsidization of vocational training in our country. It should be targeted to productive sectors with long-term deficiencies and increased demand, e.g. nursing and tourism professions. However, the return of the "migrant" labor force should also be weighed against the fact that they often didn’t find abroad the employment conditions they initially had in mind. Consequently, subsidizing vocational training for jobs that are currently in demand may be ineffective, as the workforce who returns from abroad will be preferred because of their experience.

 Is there a reason why we still continue to confuse social security with social welfare in our country?

Science has done its duty, and the delimitation of social security by social welfare has been clear for decades. The confusion of the two institutions in the pursuit of social policy is .... conscious, because some believed that it is enough to compose the positive elements of each institution in order to create an effective social security system. . This policy also has a number of strengths and on the European Union level, but it is slowly becoming clear that the purity of the institutions has an independent value and that it is not possible to adapt only the advantages of a system and ignore its weaknesses. Especially in our country, we have chosen a confused social policy with regards to the concepts of insurance risk and social need, resulting the welfare state to become extremely expensive and therefore vulnerable today to our international lenders.  It shouldn’t be excluded that this confusion is not only due to ignorance but also to political considerations. For example, a mixed social protection system is more easily reformed than an institutional guarantee, while inefficient public coverage favors the corresponding private insurance coverage.

 Are the existing group insurance policies a prohibitive factor for acquisitions and mergers?

The validity of different group insurance contracts between policies between mergers and acquisitions does not constitute a prohibitive factor in reconstruction. However, it makes the transition more time-consuming, until the diverging insurance agreements are adjusted in order to avoid conditions of unequal treatment or unilateral change in circumstances. Theoretically, there is a risk of objections in contractual negotiations by third parties involved and by professional organizations. However, the existing legislative framework does not seem to hinder acquisitions and mergers of businesses. It is sufficient for group insurance policies to contain uncomplicated conditions for the smooth transfer of expectations or the early redemption of rights.