Health care sector welcomes non- budget revenues

Health Minister Tibor Šagát said on November 16 that the 4.5 billion crowns in non-budget revenues he had been promised by the cabinet should help the Slovak health care system dig itself out of debt. But the sector's internal indebtedness, and the questions of wage increases and fees for medical treatment, remained unresolved.

The state will pay a monthly health insurance premium of 283 crowns per capita (the same amount as in 1999) for economically inactive citizens such as children, the retired, soldiers and women on maternity leave. After non-budgetary contributions are factored in, however, this sum will grow to 376 crowns.

The ministry expects an injection of nearly one billion crowns in the first quarter of 2000 into Spoločná Zdravotná Poisťovňa, a health insurer. Moreover, the health care system will receive an additional 540 million crowns for special oncology and cardio-surgery programmes. The cabinet promised a further injection of 3 billion crowns into the health care sector from the proceeds of privatization sales, but the internal distribution of these funds has yet to be discussed.

The Health Ministry has set three priorities for the next year, the first being to keep financing at least at levels reached in 1999; this goal has been partly secured by the allocation of the non-budget revenues. The second priority is to settle old debts accumulated by the health care sector; a proposal is expected from the cabinet by the end of November. The ministry's third priority is to secure wage increases for employees in the health care sector, in order to keep up with inflation levels of 13-15% in 1999.

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