Health insurer gives doctors one month to sign contracts

VŠEOBECNÁ zdravotná poisťovňa (VšZP), Slovakia's largest health insurer, has given doctors a one-month reprieve in which to sign contracts with the insurer, in an attempt to resolve a stand-off over money that has some doctors charging patients cash for treatment.

Originally, the doctor contracts with VšZP, which determine how much money physicians receive from the insurer for providing treatment and consultation to patients, were to have been signed by March 1. However, many doctors said the payments proposed by VšZP would not even cover their costs, and therefore refused to sign the contracts.

The Slovak Chamber of Physicians (SLK) also advised its members not to sign the contracts.

According to the SLK, between 5 and 30 percent of doctors are now providing health care without insurance coverage and are charging patients cash. The rest are working without contracts but are not charging money, and instead are waiting for VšZP to come up with a solution, the SME daily wrote.

VšZP says that if it increased the payments to the level demanded by doctors, it would need an additional Sk9 billion, money it doesn't have.

Some 70 percent of Slovak citizens are insured with VšZP, meaning that the impasse is affecting the provision of health care services for the majority of the population.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
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