Venezuela limits COVID-19 insurance payouts as cases rise

FILE PHOTO: A teacher receives a dose of the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine at a public school in Caracas, Venezuela March 25, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES/File Photo

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has set limits on insurance payouts for COVID-19 patients, according to a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday, as the South American country experiences a second wave of the novel coronavirus.

In a notice sent to insurers dated March 16, the country’s insurance regulator told companies they would only be required to cover a maximum of 14 days of intensive care in private facilities and to pay out a maximum of $25,000 per coronavirus patient.

Most Venezuelans seek medical care through the country’s public healthcare system, whose quality has deteriorated dramatically in recent years as a hyperinflationary economic crisis has left the system short of funds.

For the few who have health insurance and visit private clinics, the cost of healthcare has increased dramatically in recent years amid an informal dollarization of the economy. It was not immediately clear how many people would be affected by the measure.

The regulator did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Venezuela is experiencing a second wave of infections, which President Nicolas Maduro has blamed on the rise in cases in neighboring Brazil. Venezuela has reported 157,943 cases of COVID-19 and 1,577 deaths, although doctors warn the true rate is higher due to a lack of testing.

Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Peter Cooney