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Government finds way to cover nurses’ salaries

THE SLOVAK government has found a way to free up €50 million in state reserves to cover the recent increase in salaries of nurses. On June 20, the Slovak parliament adopted an amendment to the existing health insurance law, raising health insurance premiums paid by the state, along with other changes, that will go into effect by the end of this year.

THE SLOVAK government has found a way to free up €50 million in state reserves to cover the recent increase in salaries of nurses. On June 20, the Slovak parliament adopted an amendment to the existing health insurance law, raising health insurance premiums paid by the state, along with other changes, that will go into effect by the end of this year.

Based on the change, the state will pay 4.32 percent, instead of the current 4 percent of the average wage from 2010, for the people it insures, such as children, pensioners and women on maternity leave, from July 1 to the end of this year.

Former heath minister Ivan Uhliarik was confronted last year with protesting doctors and nurses demanding salary increases. Uhliarik ordered chiefs of hospitals to increase hospital doctors’ salaries by €300 per month on average and agreed to amendments that guaranteed those increases. Uhliarik later also raised nurses’ salaries, which then caused some hospitals to make changes to nurses’ employment contracts that were vigorously criticised by representatives of nurses.

Parliament also adopted a new redistribution mechanism determined by the frequency of illnesses based on which health insurance premiums are shared among the three health insurance companies. Based on the new formula, the state-run Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (VsŽP) will receive an additional €30 million while private health insurers Dôvera and Union will receive around €21 million and €9 million less, respectively.

“It is not our intention to take money from health insurance companies; our intention is that the money will go where the costs are, namely the insured,” stated health minister Zuzana Zvolenská, as quoted by SITA.

Zvolenská does not expect a negative response from the health insurers because “they have worked with this idea for several years”. However the allocation of €30 million for VsZP is questionable because it may change due to the upcoming open enrolment season, Zvolenská stated, as quoted by TV news channel TA3, referring to the ability of insured persons to switch their health insurer as of January 1, 2013.

Health insurance premiums are currently distributed according to demographic characteristics like age and gender as well as the insured person’s economic status, whether they pay their own health insurance premium or whether the state pays it. To more effectively distribute the premiums, the amendment establishes monitoring of morbidity as well as the resultant long-term consumption of pharmaceuticals to integrate riskier and therefore more costly people to pharmacy-based cost groups, SITA reported.

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