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Slovak government approves concept of a single health insurer

Establishment of a single state-owned health-insurance company was approved by the Slovak government on July 25 and may become a reality in 2014, said Prime Minister Robert Fico after the meeting of the cabinet, the TASR newswire reported. "This is a political decision by the Slovak government and it means in practice that private health insurers Dôvera and Union should leave the market," Fico stated, as quoted by TASR, adding that he is expecting a tough fight on the issue but that the intentions of the government are clear.

Establishment of a single state-owned health-insurance company was approved by the Slovak government on July 25 and may become a reality in 2014, said Prime Minister Robert Fico after the meeting of the cabinet, the TASR newswire reported.

"This is a political decision by the Slovak government and it means in practice that private health insurers Dôvera and Union should leave the market," Fico stated, as quoted by TASR, adding that he is expecting a tough fight on the issue but that the intentions of the government are clear.

Fico said an agreement by which the state would purchase the private insurers would be the ideal way of implementing the plan. If this is not possible, nationalisation can be applied as a “common institution” to achieve the goal, Fico added. The prime minister did not want to speculate on a possible purchase price, stating that establishing a price will be left to an independent auditor.

The prime minister said the state does not have enough financial resources at the moment for the purchase so the state will need to sell some assets but did not specifies these, but he did say the transactions should be carried out on the stock exchange so the process will not be like the privatisations carried out under the governments of Mikuláš Dzurinda and Vladimír Mečiar.

Fico added that the health insurance system should be characterised as being non-profit and that all proceeds to the health insurer should remain in the health-care system. Health Minister Zuzana Zvolenská was delegated by the cabinet to turn the concept into a plan by September. "If consensus can't be found for a purchase, it will be possible to engage in the process of nationalisation," the ministry stated, as quoted by TASR.

The Penta financial group, which is the majority shareholder of the Dovera health insurer, is reviewing the government’s decision to establish a single state-owned health insurer, the firm’s spokesman, Martin Danko, told TASR. "We're taking the plan into consideration. We don't know any details of how the government wants to carry out [the plan]," stated Danko, adding that Penta has information only from the media.

"It still holds that we want to be active in the sector of health insurance long term. There have been no talks with representatives of the government about its plans," Danko stated.

The Achmea company of the Netherlands is the 100-percent owner of the Union health insurer and stated that it is not interested in selling either the insurer nor the portfolio of its policyholders to the state, according to an official statement provided to TASR.

"If necessary, Achmea will take all steps necessary to protect the business interests of Union," according to the statement, as quoted by TASR.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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