The Lebanese government owed the National Social Security Fund 825 billion Lebanese pounds ($550 million) as of the end of February 2012 in accumulated obligations since 2009, figures released by the fund showed.
Government dues to the NSSF totaled LL187 billion for 2011, LL183 billion for 2010 and LL176 billion for 2009, according to figures carried by Byblos Bank’s weekly newsletter.
The government had settled LL120 billion in NSSF arrears in 2011, LL100 billion in 2010 and LL240 billion in 2009.
As of the end-February 2012, individuals covered by the fund reached 551,168 with 1.26 million beneficiaries taking advantage of work agreements between the NSSF and 142 hospitals, 10,846 doctors, 2,703 pharmacies, 1,364 physiotherapists, 427 laboratories and 209 imaging centers.
In late March, the NSSF agreed to increase tariffs paid to private hospitals, ending a weeklong strike during which hospitals refused to admit non-emergency NSSF patients.
According to the Health Ministry, the deal requires Parliament to pass a law that raises hospital fees along with the tariffs on operating rooms.
The NSSF figures showed a deficit of LL37.9 billion in the sickness and maternity category in the first nine months of 2011 and an accumulated deficit of LL431.4 billion as of the end-September 2011.
Meanwhile, the end-of-service category posted a surplus of around LL640.7 billion in the first nine months of 2011, while the accumulated surplus in this category as of the end-September 2011 reached LL7,703.6 billion.
Among the major challenges facing the NSSF are human resources issues that include understaffing with 45 percent of the fund’s positions still vacant, an aging staff with an employee average age of 51, as well as a lack of expertise in the automation, public relations, medical administration and management fields.