EURÓPSKA Zdravotná Poisťovňa (EZP), the country's smallest health insurance provider, is leaving the market.
Medical Care Holding Ltd., which is the insurer's sole shareholder, officially informed the Health Care Supervisory Office (ÚDZS) of the decision on May 2, the SITA newswire wrote.
EZP, which had more than 128,000 policies, announced its departure is due to new legislation that restricts how private insurers can use their profit, the Pravda daily wrote.
The legislation, which took effect at the beginning of 2008, prevents the companies from using more than 3.5 percent of the premiums they collect to cover operating costs. The rest must go to health care providers.
Foreign shareholders in the private insurers are considering whether to seek billions of crowns in damages from the state. Experts have calculated that amount could reach as high as Sk30 billion, Pravda wrote.
EZP management has said it does not want to go to court. But Maroš Sýkora, a spokesperson for the J&T Finance Group, which founded the insurer, said that the company may seek damages, though he refused to comment on a possible figure. Previous estimates put the amount at more than Sk2 billion.
EZP's clients were automatically moved to Spoločná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (SZP), the state health insurance company, until further notice, the ÚDZS stated.
The ÚDZS says that neither EZP's decision to leave the market nor the transfer to SZP would affects the policyholders' rights.
EZP began operating on the Slovak market last January. Its market share was 1.32 percent.
12. May 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports