SLOVAKIA: Private health insurers nationalization due to lack of financial resources

13 February 2014 — Daniela GHETU
slovaciaSlovakia's government on Wednesday suspended its plan to create a single state-owned health insurer and potentially nationalize the EU member's two private insurers, informs digitaljournal.com. According to an official release, the idea on creating a single state-owned health insurer will be put on hold until the finance ministry will be able to cover the operation's costs. At all events, the 2014 deadline can not be met.

Robert FICO is a well known advocate of a strong state influence in the economy and also an adversary of the private entities' involvement in the health and pensions sectors. After acting against the private pension funds, he has accused private health insurers of making profit from public funds, which instead should be spent fully on treatment. The government says a unified system will channel more funds for health care at a time when the country is striving to reduce the budget deficit. He initially announced that the government will negotiate with the two private health insurance providers the buyout terms during the entire 2013 year, but if they will fail to reach a reasonable agreement by the end of the year, the two companies will be, most probably, expropriated.

"Suspending the plan is a wise and rational decision given that the idea (...) was harmful for Slovak healthcare from the beginning," Bratislava-based think tank Health Policy Institute said in a press release.

Currently, the Slovak citizens have to pay for health insurance a mandatory contribution, but they can choose between the state-owned General Health Insurance Company (VsZP) - which controls the health insurance issues for about 3.6 Slovak citizens -, or two privately-owned companies: DOVERA, owned by Czech-Slovak private equity group Penta, managing the health contracts of 1.4 million clients, and UNION, a subsidiary of the Dutch insurer ACHMEA, with a portfolio of 400,000 clients. There is little difference between the coverage, although waiting lists for certain operations are shorter for clients of private insurers.

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