Debate on healthcare temporarily suspended

THE SLOVAK cabinet interrupted the debate on Health Minister Ivan Valentovič's proposals on May 16.
Valentovič has been tasked with improving the situation of the heavily indebted health sector. One of his suggestions was to introduce a single state-run health insurance company, though he knows Smer's ruling coalition partners oppose the idea.

THE SLOVAK cabinet interrupted the debate on Health Minister Ivan Valentovič's proposals on May 16.

Valentovič has been tasked with improving the situation of the heavily indebted health sector. One of his suggestions was to introduce a single state-run health insurance company, though he knows Smer's ruling coalition partners oppose the idea. Valentovič believes the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and the Slovak National Party still might have a change of heart. The ruling coalition partners will continue negotiations on the plan until May 23, when the entire Slovak cabinet resumes discussions on the issue. It is also expected final measures will be adopted that day.

According to the plan, policyholders and the assets of private health insurers acquired through public health insurance funds would be shifted to a single public health insurance company. The minister rejected the notion that this is nationalization. "Slovak legislation and I do not recognize the term 'nationalization'," he said, assuring the media that if the coalition partners agreed to the idea, the legislative mechanisms used to implement it would be fully in line with the constitution.

Prime Minister Robert Fico believes introducing a system with a single health insurance company is a condition for fulfilling the intent of the Slovak Constitution, which grants citizens the right to free healthcare. The proposed system would guarantee, the PM says, that no old woman would have to keep a five-thousand-crown banknote under her pillow in case of a medical emergency. He also claimed that the previous government largely infringed on this constitutional right.

But civic associations and think-tanks, such as the Health Policy Institute (HPI), strongly oppose monopolization. HPI believes that political meddling in the healthcare sector contradicts the part of the government's election manifesto that obliges it to "provide for a legal environment in which all heath insurers have equal conditions regardless of their legal form and which prevents insurance companies from administrating their policyholders' finances inefficiently."

The Association of Health Insurance Companies (ZZP) regards the Valentovič proposal as disadvantageous to patients and the healthcare sector alike. "A system with one health insurance company will harm patients as well as healthcare providers, who will lose freedom of choice and will be at the mercy of one health insurance company," ZZP's president told the TASR

news wire.

Get daily Slovak news directly to your inbox

Top stories

News digest: Long queues around Slovakia on the first day of nationwide testing

Hundreds of thousands got tested during the first five hours. Experts warn it is too early to interpret the results.

Drive-in testing site in Bratislava.

Afraid of testing? Minimise your risk of infection with these test day tips

Coughing is the most dangerous part of the testing process.

Zborov, the Bardejov district

UPDATED: Nationwide testing for COVID-19 is on

Long queues have formed in front of most testing points since early morning. Some drive-through sites closed in Bratislava

Testing in Trenčín, western Slovakia

The big testing: When and where to show up, and what if I don't want to? (FAQ)

Here is what we know about the practicalities of the nationwide testing so far. Testing also applies to foreigners and diplomats in Slovakia.

Pilot testing in Bardejov