The Slovenia Times

Healthcare and pensions yet to be cracked


Replacement at the helm of the Health Ministry and primary healthcare issues

Healthcare and reform thereof, one of the most critical issues the first ever Slovenian minority government faced at the start of its term, have been in the spotlight for most of this year.

The coalition, ostensibly committed to reducing patient wait times, has been successful in earmarking additional funds for a number of specialist examinations in departments where patients wait the longest.

But wait times remain a major problem nevertheless, with the number of those on waiting lists actually growing compared to the same period last year.

The situation seemed to be spiralling out of control when GPs around the country threatened to quit due to increased workload; in the Kranj Community Health Centre alone, more than 20 doctors resigned at the start of April.

This prompted acceleration of action, with Health Minister Aleš Šabeder attempting to appease doctors by reducing the general practitioners' workload by reducing the number of patients they need to admit and increasing pay for those with the most patients.

September will show whether this has been effective since GPs in several regions who have been threatening to resign are now delaying their planned departures until they see how the new measures work out.

The ministry has also introduced a new model for hiring foreign doctors, allowing a greater number of them for this year to tackle the GPs crisis.

Pension reform still on the back burner

The coalition agreement seemed quite ambitious regarding pension reform and the blueprint delivered by the government included raising the retirement age for those without 40 years of retirement pension from 65 to 67 years as well as raising employer contributions.

Alas, the proposal to raise the retirement age had to be scrapped right at the start of talks with social partners, designated to be tackled once a more comprehensive pension reform is on the table.

Demographic fund and long-term care legislation have not been drafted either and are expected to be put on the agenda after the summer recess.

To ensure sufficient funds for pensions and long-term care, the state will have to improve youth participation in the labour market since the population is rapidly ageing, which has been driving growth in pension spending.

The government has been thus struggling with providing a sustainable pension system as well as pensions allowing decent living standards, while not placing an undue burden on younger generations.

Once talks on new pension and long-term case legislation begin in earnest, presumably at the start of next year, they are likely to be long and arduous.


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