President Ivan Gasparovic put his hand to the government revision to the Health Insurers Act yesterday, opening up the door once again for health insurance companies to generate profit from their activities, starting this August.
The health insurers will only be obliged to put aside 20% of the profit into a reserve fund (until it reaches 20% of the company share capital), while the rest of the spoils will be shared among shareholders. Other technical reserves also have to be provisioned, though, especially for costly ‘waiting list’ operations.
Health insurers lost their right to make profit back in 2008 under the Robert Fico government, after which some of the insurers tried to sue the Slovak state for loss of investment. The legislation was eventually declared anti-constitutional by the Constitutional Court in January this year.
There have been many changes recently in the health service and the refusal of health insurers to renew contracts with certain hospitals has heated up relations between insurers and their patients, with some literally being turned away at the door after travelling for hours to a hospital.
The question arises whether now that health insurers have regained their profitability power, they will not start concentrating more on spending less, cutting corners, bending the rules, all to the detriment of patients and the health service as a whole, but at least with better financial results.