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Some doctors charging cash from patients

SOME doctors have decided to charge patients who are insured with the Všeobecná zdravotná poisťovňa (VšZP) insurance house.

VšZP is Slovakia's largest health insurer, and around 70 percent of Slovaks are insured there. Under Slovak law, health care treatments are free, with minor exceptions.

Doctors from the Slovak Chamber of Physicians (SLK) have refused to sign new contracts with the VšZP, arguing that the payments the insurers are offering for the procedures the doctors carry out are too low. Slovakia's Health Minister, Rudolf Zajac, has threatened to strip the doctors of their licenses.

Doctors themselves are not completely united over the issue. While SLK members refuse to sign the new contracts, the Slovak Union of Medical Specialists as well as the Union of Private Doctors signed the deals and accused the SLK of politicizing the issue.

"The contracts are good, and whoever says the opposite is lying," said Andrej Janco, head of the Union of Medical Specialists.

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