State once more to boost the state-run health insurer, backlash of criticism appears

State once more to boost the state-run health insurer, backlash of criticism appears

The state will boost the capital of state-run health insurer Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa again, this time by €98 million. The state also pumped €100 million into the insurance company in October to increase its equity. According to the Government, the refunding of health care by the state-run insurer would be in jeopardy without such a financial injection, as it covers health care for 58 percent of the public.

Parliamentary health committee chair Jana Bittó Cigániková (Freedom and Solidarity/SaS) on Wednesday criticised boosting the state insurer's capital, claiming that the Health Minister had not informed her about this move in advance. Moreover, she considers the state-run health insurance company to be the least effective and having a monopoly on health insurance is a threat.

Both private insurers, Dôvera and Union, called the move to boost funding for the state insurer "unfair", but Finance Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) responded by saying that he did not see any reason why the state should bear losses when private insurers refuse to share their profits.

"All patients, regardless of where they are insured, have the same right to better health care," the head of the Association for the Protection of Patients' Rights Maria Lévyová told TASR on Wednesday. "Patients insured in private health insurance companies are as vulnerable groups as patients insured in the state-run health insurer," she noted.

According to Martin Vlachynský, an analyst at the Economic and Social Analysis Institute (INESS), the decision to boost the capital of the state-run health insurer again is yet more motivation for it to behave inefficiently. "The basic thing for the public is that from rescuing state hospitals, we've already moved on to rescuing the state-run health insurer, which is a whiff of the state from more than 20 years ago," he said. The analyst also pointed out that private health-insurance companies have around 450 employees per million insured, while the state insurer has 650. "This isn't a situation caused by novel coronavirus. VšZP has had problems practically throughout its existence," he stated.

The state-run health insurer claims in its defence that it has been underfunded for years, and it must undergo a "thorough cleaning" in a transparent manner to make it work effectively. According to the insurers' spokesman Matej Neumann the new leadership has launched cost optimisation, but VsZP has seen a significant slump in incomes from insurance premiums related to the coronavirus outbreak, while at the same time its expenditures have increased by at least €36 million due to the same reason.

Zuzana Botiková, Photo: TASR