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IN SHORT

Minister unveils compulsory state insurance bill

HEALTH Minister Ivan Valentovič (Smer) has unveiled a draft law aimed at forcing people whose health insurance dues are paid by the state to sign up with state-owned health insurance companies.

The country's two state-owned insurers - Všeobecná and Spoločná - have lost hundreds of thousands of clients to private insurers, the Sme daily reported on January 27. The passage of the new bill could deprive the latter of as many as one million clients.

However, one government party, the HZDS, is against the bill, said party Vice-Chairman Milan Urbáni. "We respect the plurality of the health insurance system that has been introduced in this country, and this is also stated in the government program," he said.

Opposition SDKÚ Vice-Chairman Ivan Mikloš said that Valentovič's proposal will put both patients and medical staff at a disadvantage. "Private insurers today provide better services to their clients, operate more efficiently, and pay doctors more than state companies," he said.

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