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Opposition MP criticises government assistance to state health insurers

Health Minister Richard Raši came under fire from an opposition MP on September 9 for seeking tens of millions of euros in financial assistance to increase the equity of state health insurer Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (VšZP) before it takes over another state health insurer, Spoločná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (SZP), the TASR newswire reported.

Health Minister Richard Raši came under fire from an opposition MP on September 9 for seeking tens of millions of euros in financial assistance to increase the equity of state health insurer Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (VšZP) before it takes over another state health insurer, Spoločná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (SZP), the TASR newswire reported.

"We are calling on Premier Robert Fico to halt this folly - the egregious waste of money of all citizens, taxpayers," Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) vice-chairman Viliam Novotny told TASR. At a time of crisis the government is looking to fork over €65.1 million on a project which will benefit citizens in two years' time, whereas two privately-held health insurers – which could also be up for a merger – do not need these funds, Novotný went on to say.

“Moreover, according to the Slovakia’s Healthcare Supervisory Authority statistics, health insurers have seen their annual receipts go up 5.4 percent for the first half of 2009. That means that VšZP and SZP collected €50 million more than originally expected in premiums from their clients. I want to ask where that money has gone," said Novotný, adding that an increase in receipts was not reflected either in the health-care staff salaries or money disbursed to hospitals.

The ministry wants to provide VšZP with resources from state financial assets which would help it bridge this year's deficit as well as the period enveloping the merger with SZP. The ministry said that VšZP insures most Slovaks and that its collected premiums do not fully cover expenses.

Both state health insurance companies are to fully merge between 2010 and 2011, when VšZP will take over SZP and then have some 3.5 million insured people. The merger will facilitate savings by cutting duplication of services and contractual liabilities, the ministry says.

Raši rejected Novotný's criticism, calling it a result of the MP’s ignorance of the project of merger of state insurers. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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