Some health-care fees may return

The Health Ministry plans to restore charges for preferential examination scrapped by the previous government.

Waiting rooms are full of patients, illustrative stock photoWaiting rooms are full of patients, illustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

Patients will pay for making an appointment at the doctor’s office once again. Health Minister Tomáš Drucker (Smer nominee) wants to reintroduce the fee for preferential examination, scrapped by his predecessor. However, he proposes to make such appointments outside the surgery hours, which is opposed by some doctors, the Sme daily reported.

The survey carried out by the ministry among patients revealed the fee could be reintroduced, Drucker says. He wants to submit the proposal to a governmental session by the end of this year.

“The current law is not observed properly or is avoided,” the health minister said, as quoted by Sme.

He was responding to the fact that some companies ordered by some private health-care providers collect such fees. The charge for making an appointment at the doctor’s office was collected by company MyCare, which was later signed by the Bratislava Self-Governing Region.

Read also:Furore erupts over doctors’ fees Read more 

With his decision, Drucker accepted the claims of analysts who had warned last year that doctors would find a way to collect the fees despite their scrapping.

“There is a group of people who want to pay for the service,” Tomáš Szalay from the Health Policy Institute told Sme last year. He now serves as Drucker’s external advisor.

Under the proposed rules, patients may pay some €4-5 for preferential examination, which should take place outside the surgery hours. In many cases this means in the afternoon hours. The ministry will also set how many patients can be treated in such a way and how long it may take.

Doctors, however, dislike the proposal. If doctors would treat patients outside the official hours, there is a risk the health insurers would not reimburse the treatment, Marián Šóth, head of the Association of Private Doctors, told Sme.

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