BUSINESS IN SHORT

Arbitration over health insurers' profits

THE SLOVAK Republic will face international arbitration over a law that prevents private health insurers from keeping their profits, a measure pushed through by the government last year. On July 17, the six-month deadline for an amicable settlement of the dispute between the Slovak Republic and Health Insurance Companies of Eastern Europe (HICEE), the Dutch shareholder of the health insurance company Dôvera, expired, the SITA newswire wrote.

THE SLOVAK Republic will face international arbitration over a law that prevents private health insurers from keeping their profits, a measure pushed through by the government last year. On July 17, the six-month deadline for an amicable settlement of the dispute between the Slovak Republic and Health Insurance Companies of Eastern Europe (HICEE), the Dutch shareholder of the health insurance company Dôvera, expired, the SITA newswire wrote.

HICEE sent a pre-arbitration notice to the Slovak Cabinet Office and the ministries of health, finance and foreign affairs, demanding Sk15 billion (€497.91 million) in an amicable settlement, a step necessary for any party to make before proceeding to arbitration.

HICEE Director Pieter de Kok told SITA that as the parties in the dispute were unable to reach an agreement, HICEE would have no option other than to open arbitration proceedings.

Miroslav Šmál, the spokesman for the Slovak Finance Ministry, said that no agreement had been reached during the six-month period and the ministry expects HICEE to initiate arbitration proceedings.

HICEE has already hired an international law firm specialising in arbitration between investors and state institutions. De Kok underscored that they will demand full compensation for their damaged investment. However, he did not specify a figure.

Under the revision to the Health Insurance Act, which the Slovak parliament passed on October 25, 2007, private health insurers may not pay dividends to their shareholders and must instead return any profits to the healthcare system.



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