Dozens of doctors' offices have started collecting a new fee to compensate for higher operating costs from the start of the new year.
President of the Association of Private Doctors, Marián Šóth, points out that other doctors' offices may join them, the TASR news agency wrote.
First known case in Bratislava
The Sme daily presented the first story about the new practice last week. A cardiologist's office in Bratislava-Petržalka set its fee at €10 for a 20-minute medical examination, though the fee is said to be voluntary.
The Health Ministry told patients to turn to self-governing regions to deal with similar problems, the daily added.
However, the Bratislava Region, which is responsible for the operation of doctors' offices in the region, refused to fine the cardiologist. The region went on to say that it is not a solution, as doctors might then cancel contracts with health insurance companies and introduce even more fees.
It is not the first time that doctors charge patients for a visit. A similar situation occurred in the noughties.
Financial aid still in the works
Today, Šóth cites the high advance payments for energy, which doctors - essentially business owners - are unable to continue to pay without the help of the state. In addition, they have to raise the salaries of their staff.
Today, doctors' offices only receive money from the state through health insurance companies, which pay them for the number of performed medical procedures.
"The minister [Vladimír Lengvarský] told us that the problem will be resolved in a short time," the association's president specified.
He also stressed that the situation is acute, because the amendments to contracts with health insurance companies expire at the beginning of February. Without new contracts or amendments, doctors will receive no payments from the state.
As a result, doctors could introduce more fees to earn money. Alternatively, they could close their offices down.
Meanwhile, the Economy Ministry plans to launch another round of energy aid for small businesses in February.