THE EUROPEAN Commission is investigating whether the Slovak government provided €170 million in unjustified aid over the past six years to the Spoločná and Všeobecná state health insurers, which have since merged into a single insurer, Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (VšZP), the Sme daily reported.
The aim of the EC’s investigation is to determine whether the state created an advantage for the state-run insurer that hindered the market.
The investigation, which was initiated two months ago, could take as long as two years, and if the financial support the insurers received turns out to have been unjustified, it will have to be returned, Sme wrote.
The EC has sent a letter to the Slovak authorities saying that the situation needs to be dealt with.
“The European Commission has launched a proceeding against Slovakia due to suspicions of providing unjustified state aid,” Andrej Králik, from the Representation of the EC in Slovakia, confirmed for Sme.
The insurers received most of the aid under the second government of Mikuláš Dzurinda (2002-2006) and the first government of Robert Fico (2006-2010).
The first motion was filed by private health insurer Dôvera in 2007, in protest to the state giving €15 million to Spoločná. The insurer later merged with VšZP, Sme wrote.
Slovakia defended its aid to the state-run health insurer, saying that there is no market environment for health insurance. The Health Ministry denied that any legal norms concerning the Slovak health insurance system would contradict the legal norms of the European Union, Sme reported.
VšZP currently has a two-thirds’ share on the Slovak market, with losses of around €110 million.
23. Sep 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff