Impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on benefit applications and beneficiaries

The Koronamittarit website provides updates on the effects of the epidemic

Researchers and statisticians at Kela’s Information Service have compiled a continually updated status report on the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on application and beneficiary numbers and on Kela’s services. 

The website currently provides information about the following:

  • application and beneficiary totals for unemployment benefits, labour market subsidies for the self-employed, general housing allowances, basic social assistance payments, and sickness and infectious disease allowances
  • prescription medicines, COVID-19 tests and taxi journeys reimbursed by Kela
  • the availability of Kela’s customer service and the share of applications filed online. 

The website draws on register data collected in Kela’s customer and benefit systems. 

The charts are updated automatically every weekday, provided that data for the previous day is available. A status update comes out monthly, usually on the second Tuesday of the month.

Get to know the Koronamittarit website (in Finnish)

Higher application totals during the coronavirus epidemic

There have been more applications than usual for certain Kela benefits during the COVID-19 epidemic. The number of applications for the most important benefits which offer economic security has increased.

A weekly infographic shows the number of applications received for selected benefits. Also shown are the number of applications that have not yet been reviewed. The figures can be analysed on a week-to-week basis.

The underlying data is retrieved from the benefit management system.

When looking at the number of applications for social assistance, it should be kept in mind that a disproportionately large share of applications are received around the turn of the month. In 2019, Kela paid basic social assistance to 274,408 households. Social assistance can be granted for several months at a time.

The sickness allowance is paid as compensation for loss of income due to incapacity for work lasting less than a full year. It was paid to 304,146 persons in 2019. The sickness allowance application count also includes applications for infectious disease allowance.

The infectious disease allowance provides cover for loss of income for persons who have been placed in quarantine or isolation, or who have been ordered to stay away from work in order to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.

Low-income households are eligible for general housing allowance to help with their housing costs. The application totals shown in the figure include new applications for general housing allowance and applications for the review of an allowance currently in payment. The number of households in receipt of general housing allowance at the end of 2019 was 379,667.

Due to the exceptional economic and employment situation, a number of adjustments have been made to the unemployment protection of salary earners and self-employed people, leading to an increase in the number of applications.

Kela can pay basic unemployment allowance and labour market subsidy to unemployed and furloughed recipients. Earnings-related allowances are not paid by Kela but are available on application from unemployment funds and only to fund members.

Application for tracking prescription drug usage

The consumption of reimbursable prescription drugs can be tracked with a new application.
It shows for example that drug hoarding hit a peak in the week beginning 13 April 2020. The demand for products used in the treatment of respiratory illnesses has been unusually strong during the COVID-19 epidemic.

For comparison, the same data is shown for the corresponding period of 2019. The data come from purchase records which pharmacies transmit to Kela every day.

The data are updated once a week on Wednesday mornings. We will continue to develop the application based on user experiences.

Learn more about the application (in Finnish)

Contact information

  • Signe Jauhiainen, Head of Research (economic security), Twitter: @SigneJauhiainen
  • Heini Kari, Senior Researcher (medicines), Twitter: @HeiniKari
  • Sami Tuori, Statistician