Patients may pay more at emergency wards

Government hopes to prevent misuse of the system.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

Patients with a cough or cold may soon pay up to €10 for visiting the urgent and emergency ward, up from the current fee of €2.

Moreover, those using the outpatient emergency service may pay €2, up from the current €1.99, the TASR newswire reported.

This change comes from a health care amendment approved by the government at its July 24 session. The goal is to prevent patients from abusing the emergency health care system.

The new fees will not affect people who require urgent medical treatment, TASR wrote.

If approved by the parliament, the amendment is expected to come into force in the second half of next year, said Health Minister Tomáš Drucker (Smer nominee).

The amendment proposes setting the fees for providing the extract from health documentation at no more than €2. Some doctors currently ask for fees ranging from €5 to €15, TASR wrote.

The amendment also changes the operation of the outpatient emergency service. Under the new rules, there would be a distinction between solid and additional emergency services. There will be one solid outpatient service in every district capital, open between 16:00 and 23:00 on weekdays and 7:00-23:00 on weekends.

The additional outpatient service may be available for at least two hours between 16:00 and 23:00 on weekdays and between 7:00 and 23:00 on days off, TASR wrote.

The outpatient emergency wards in the minimal solid network will not have to be closed after 23:00 and may operate until 7:00 the next day if their provider agrees to this with the self-governing region, Drucker explained. The current first aid medical service is used minimally after 23:00.

“If somebody has a serious medical problem after this hour, there is still the urgent ward in hospital or rescuers,” Drucker added, as quoted by TASR.

If the provider will not be able to secure the shifts of doctors, the self-governing region can do this, though it would reduce the sum that the wards receive from the health insurers.

The permissions to open the outpatient emergency wards will be issued by the Health Ministry. In the solid network the permission will last six years, while in the additional network it will vary depending on time and location. The ministry will organise competitions for places in the solid network, with a plan to start the first competitions in the beginning of next year, TASR wrote.

Doctors in the solid network will receive an hourly wage of €12, with the condition that they have an employment agreement with the provider. The doctors can then agree on higher salaries with the employer.

The hourly wage in the additional network will depend on mutual agreement, TASR wrote.

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