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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Claims of health insurers climbed to 13 billion Sk last year

Slovak health insurers were owed a total of over 13.023 billion crowns at the end of 1998, more than double the figure in 1997.

Themselves short of money, insurers became ever more indebted to health care providers like hospitals and pharmacies, to whom they owed a total of over 12 billion crowns in 1998.

The Health Ministry announced on July 2 that improving discipline in the payment of health insurance premiums was the key to solving the health care crisis in Slovakia. At the end of December 1998, uncollected premiums totaled almost eight billion crowns, and this shortfall grew by additional 710 million crowns in the first quarter of 1999.

Health Minister Tibor Šagát says the ministry aimed to force health care premiums out of those who do not automatically have them deducted from their pay cheques, including "many profit-making businessmen [who] do not pay health premiums and use treatments in medical facilities free of charge."

The introduction of new and expensive medical treatment methods, the aging of the population and the growing demands of citizens for better quality health care have all contributed to the current crisis in healthcare.

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